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    Soldier receives Ohio Military Medal of Distinction

    Soldier receives Ohio Military Medal of Distinction

    Photo By Darrin McDufford | Myles Eckert, son, Tiffany Eckert, wife, and Marlee Eckert, daughter, of Sgt. Gary...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Darrin McDufford 

    416th Theater Engineer Command

    MONCLOVA, Ohio – Sgt. Gary A. Eckert Jr., a four-year Army Reserve veteran, with two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and recipient of the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts with one oak leaf cluster, was posthumously awarded the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction Jan. 23.

    Eckert, of Toledo, Ohio, was serving with Charlie Company, 983rd Engineer Battalion, on his second deployment in Iraq when he was killed in action by an improvised explosive device. The medal is only awarded to those who died in defense of the United States on or after Sept. 10, 2001.

    Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur Leak was Eckert’s platoon sergeant during his deployment and described Eckert as a hardworking, dedicated Soldier of caliber like no other.

    “He always put extra effort in everything. He is missed and he really deserves this. He sacrificed his life for our country,” said Leak with a brittle voice. “He insisted on going on a second deployment despite just returning and being hit with an IED on the first. He was an example and I am proud of him.”

    It was Mother’s Day when he got hit, he wouldn’t survive to see his wife and children again. He was married only two years and had a young daughter, Marlee, and an even younger son, Myles.

    His father, a veteran and a retired master sergeant, last saw his son while he was training for deployment.

    “I was out that day, but when I got home the answering machine was blowing up. Everyone was trying to get a hold of me,” said Jerry Eckert.

    “It was a kick in the gut,” Jerry Eckert said solemnly. “The amount of pride I have for my son is immeasurable. I saw him while he was training for deployment at Camp Atterbury. That would be the last time I saw him.”

    “Everyone who met Andy (Gary’s nickname) would glow about him,” said the elder Eckert with a combination of sadness for his loss but delight in the fact that so many saw Gary Eckert’s great character.

    “If I could ask him just anything,” said Gary Eckert’s wife, Tiffany Eckert, “I would ask if I’m doing it right.”

    “It was the worst day of my life when he was killed and we were suppose to be raising our children together,” she said. “I miss him.”

    “Our son was very young and didn’t know his father. I want our children to know who their father was,” said Tiffany Eckert.

    Gary Eckert left an impression that would echo to his children, and that sacrifice is an element of life that makes it fuller.

    “Myles found $20 in a restaurant. He saw a couple of Soldiers sitting and eating. Myles gave the money to the Soldiers. That story went viral. It was on television, Internet videos and blogs,” said Tiffany Eckert.

    She added that she and her children have raised money for charities to include nearly $2 million for Snowball Express, whose mission is to provide hope and new happy memories to the children of military fallen heroes who have died while on active duty since 9/11.

    “He embodied what it meant to be a Soldier. He loved his country and his family, most especially his children and his wife," said Steven Brunn, Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator.

    In a letter written for the ceremony by Sgt. Jeremy Lanham who worked with Gary Eckert, Lanham indicated, “The life of Sgt. Andy (Gary) Eckert is full of stories of bravery, sacrifice and heroism.”

    He added, “His life serves as an example of how we should strive to live.”




    Date Taken: 01.23.2016
    Date Posted: 02.06.2016 14:01
    Story ID: 188108
    Location: MONCLOVA, OHIO, US

    Web Views: 410
    Downloads: 1