News: Georgia governor recognizes Guardsmen's service, signs legislation
Story by Capt. William Carraway
ATLANTA - Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, and Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, Georgia’s adjutant general, honored the courage, commitment and sacrifice of four Georgia Guardsmen in front of their families and fellow servicemen Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Atlanta.
Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Rosenburg, Spc. Jonathan Mathews, Sgt. Stephen Bray and Spc. John Rivers received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in combat while assigned to the 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion.
The governor and adjutant general shook the hands of the Soldiers and family members.
“One team, one fight, one family,” said Butterworth in his remarks. “It is my job to make sure that the sacrifices that our family make are not forgotten.”
Following the ceremony, Deal signed Senate Bill 276, which declared Georgia to be a Purple Heart state and designated Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Day. The legislation was sponsored by state Sen. Ed Harbison, a Purple Heart Medal recipient who served three tours in Vietnam.
“These four men, who were honored here today, are recognized for the sacrifices they have made,” said Deal. “But all of you who were in harm’s way were simply one breath away from being in the same exact position. So, in some ways, this ceremony, even though it is dedicated to the Purple Heart recipients, I believe it should be dedicated to all of you, because, you did not have a choice about where you were. You were in the line of fire in many instances, and we are pleased that you all came back. I believe this ceremony is for all of you, and I believe these four men would say the same thing.”
The governor asked the four Purple Heart recipients to stand with him as he signed SB 276, and gave each of the Soldiers a pen used during the signature ceremony.
“We thank the Soldiers and family members represented here today,” continued Deal.
“Sometimes people forget the sacrifices made by members of our military today,” said Deal. “They don’t understand the sacrifices made by Soldiers and family members. This is a story that we need to tell our fellow Americans, because it is the story of the sacrifices that have made our country great from its inception. We will continue only so long as there are men and women willing to voluntarily step forward.”
More than 16,500 Georgia Guardsmen have deployed overseas since Sept. 11, 2001. The 1-214th FA is one of the most recent Georgia National Guard units to return from overseas duty. The battalion conducted more than 720 combat patrols in western Afghanistan, from May to December 2013, and was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation. Approximately 500 Guardsmen are currently serving overseas as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.