Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
My cousin Leroy and his family left for New York on Thursday morning. My cousin did the "The Daily Show" on Thursday night. Also, check out his extended interview with Jon Stewart. It's quite entertaining. Friday morning, my cousin and his wife appeared on the "Today" show and the whole family (Leroy, Ashley, Austin, Reagan and Landon) got a chance to talk on "Fox & Friends."
Friday night, my cousin is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the New York Mets game. A family member told me that his son Austin would be the one actually throwing the pitch. I'll try to find a picture and post later. I'm not sure how many more media and Army obligations my cousin has lined up, but I hope he soon gets to go back home to Washington (state) and have a week to himself when he can hit the links with friends, play "Call of Duty" with Landon and just recharge the batteries in his prostheses and his life.
This photo of President Obama hugging my grandma, Bertha Petry, was the Photo of the Day on the White House website on Wednesday. Pictured behind the president, to the left, are my cousin Leroy Petry and his dad, Larry Petry. My grandma is 80 years old and I'm so proud of her for having the strength and courage to get on that plane to Washington, D.C. and attend every event she could in support of my cousin. Love you Grandma!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
About 10 years ago, Leroy and our cousin Steven (also a Ranger) were stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash. Leroy had purchased some scratcher lottery tickets that afternoon and one of them seemed to indicate he won $300,000. Leroy was ecstatic. He called his family back home in Santa Fe, he called his Ranger buddies, he even called his commanding officer to let him know of his good fortune. Then, Leroy and Steve got dressed to the nines and went out on the town to celebrate. They bought drinks for friends and their smiles filled every room. That night, Leroy was introduced to a striking blonde named Ashley.
Later in the evening, when Steve and Leroy showed the "winning" lottery ticket to Steve's girlfriend, she informed them that they had misread the rules of the game and this ticket was about as valuable as the paper it was printed on. Whoops. Leroy's commanding officer and Ranger buddies got many good laughs from that one the next day. But as fate (or fortune) would have it, Leroy did hit the lottery that night. The blonde, Ashley, would soon become his wife and mother to son Landon. As Dempsey said during the Pentagon ceremony, that bond between husband and wife is much, much more valuable than any lottery ticket.
I had heard this story many years ago, but until this week, I had never met Ashley or her children Brittany, Austin and Reagan, whom Leroy would raise as his own after the marriage. As I suspected, they are all wonderful people.
Wednesday night, during a banquet for Leroy, the Army showed a video in tribute to SFC Leroy A. Petry. The video included details of the mission in Patkya, Afghanistan on May 26, 2008, as told by Leroy and his fellow Rangers. The video also included emotional interviews with Leroy's mom and dad about the day they found out their son had been wounded in battle. It was a well-done video and pulled at the heartstrings of everyone in attendance.
When the video concluded, everyone stood and clapped and directed their attention to Leroy's table. His son, Austin, 17, was in tears. Lots of tears. He hugged his dad Leroy. Then Ashley joined in. Then Reagan, 13, and son Landon, 7. (Daughter Brittany was in Europe and could not be here this week). There wasn't a dry eye in the room.
The Medal of Honor is a great, great award, and Leroy is a deserving soldier. But even more than the Medal of Honor, I saw something Wednesday night that I take even more pride in. He has a wife and four beautiful children who love him. That's what I'll remember most from this week.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
|From left, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, his wife Ashley Petry, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Peter Chiarelli and Sgt. Major of the Army Raymond Chandler.|
• My family was standing in a line when vice president Joe Biden entered. He went down the line of family members to shake hands and introduce himself. My 80-year-old grandma shook his hand, but didn't realize who he was. She thought he was my uncle Larry's friend. Right after the handshake, it clicked for my grandma, and she reached for the vice president's hand before he could move on to the next family member. "Oh, I know who you are, now," she said. He laughed and gave my grandma a hug. After the ceremony, he signed his seat placard and gave it to my grandma so that she could always remember him.
• When my grandma met President Obama, she started the conversation by exclaiming, "I already know who you are!" The president laughed and gave my grandma a big hug.
• When my cousin Lloyd Petry (Leroy's brother) met Biden, he said. "Mr. vice president, I've been quoting you since I found out my brother won this award." Biden replied, "Oh, yeah, what have you been saying?" "It's a big deal," Lloyd said. He didn't use a certain word inside the White House, but it got the message across. Everyone got a laugh from that one.
• After meeting my family, Biden asked if anyone had any questions for him. Lloyd asked Biden what the Medal of Honor meant to him. His answer impressed my family. Later, my uncle Larry (Leroy's dad) said, "He didn't have much time to think of a response, but what he said was right on. He gets it."
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
|Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson, right, and Sgt. Daniel Higgins — the two men Leroy risked his life to save in Afghanistan.|
|Leroy A. Petry poses with members of his Ranger battalion. Around 30 of Leroy's fellow soldiers made the trip to Washington, D.C., to support him.|
Monday, July 11, 2011
Leroy seemed to enjoy hanging out with the guys and escaping for a few hours the pressures that go along with being a Medal of Honor recipient. But shortly after last call, Leroy had to retreat to his room to shine his shoes and fine-tune a speech that began with the phrase, "Thank you, Mr. President." Soon, I found myself in a conversation with my cousin Lloyd (Leroy's older brother and a former Army land surveyor) and a rather entertaining Marine, who was loud, abrasive, quick with a joke and by this time, a little tipsy.
The Marine, who had met Leroy only a few hours prior, spoke to Lloyd and me about my cousin's humbleness and high character. And he said he tried to treat Leroy like a fellow solider; not as an amputee, not as a Medal of Honor recipient. Lloyd and I both reassured him that Leroy appreciates that. Anybody who would put Leroy on a pedestal above his fellow Rangers is someone I'm sure my cousin would not want in his life.
Then, the Marine's eyes teared up as he told us how honored he was to have a beer with Leroy. He told us that Leroy's actions on the battlefield will give him strength and inspiration the next time he is in the trenches. By this time, the Marine was trying hard to hold back the tears, but wasn't succeeding. He gave each us a big hug before calling it a night. Lloyd and I have each heard our fair share of poignant compliments about Leroy. But this one meant a little bit more. It made me realize a bit more the gravity the medal carries. It can bring a grown man to tears.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
This view from my cousin Leroy's hotel room offers an awesome view of Washington, D.C. The tall spires are an Air Force memorial, which is directly in front of the Pentagon. The damage evident on the overhang (top of photo) was from 9/11, when the plane flew directly over the hotel, shaking it violently, before it slammed into the Pentagon.
What's it like to be the cousin of a Medal of Honor recipient on the way to his nationally televised ceremony? You get a few special perks at the airport, for one thing. Thanks to Southwest Airlines for recognizing my cousin by telling his tale over the speaker system as we landed in Baltimore. And thanks to our fellow passegers for offering their congratulations and support as the pilot asked that members of Leroy A. Petry's family be allowed to exit the plane first.
In Albuquerque, Southwest Airlines presented our family with two banners offering their well wishes to Leroy A. Petry. The banners were signed by members of the company and by fellow passengers. Below, Leroy's dad, Larry, poses with one of the banners.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
The Santa Fe New Mexican has some nice content as well: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/moh/
Know of any more helpful websites? Email me or post below. Thanks.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
I had a wonderful time at the event hanging out with friends and family, chowing down on some delicious Frito pie and dancing into all hours of the night. The best moment of the night was hearing my aunt and uncle (Leroy's parents) extend their thanks to all in attendance. It was a genuine moment, and it was great to see the pride the community took in Leroy's honor. Leroy could not make it to the event, but I'm sure he would be honored and humbled. During his speech, my uncle Larry (Leroy's dad) said if it was up to his son, Leroy would slice up his Medal of Honor and give a piece to each of his fellow Rangers so that each one's communities offer the same support Leroy has received from Santa Fe. Well said.
The fundraiser was a success and at least 13 members of the Petry family will get to go to Washington for the ceremony. Also, we raised money for members of the Tapia family (Leroy's mom) to attend as well. Read more about my family's fundraising efforts here (from the Santa Fe New Mexican): http://www.santafenewmexican.com/Local%20News/Groups-raise-cash-for-Medal-of-Honor-designee-s-family
We leave for D.C. Sunday morning and I'll send my next blog post from our nation's capital.
|Kathy Peerman (my mom) and Lucas Peerman (me) attend the Petry-Tapia Benefit Dance July 1 in Santa Fe. All family members plan to wear our "Sgt. Leroy A. Petry. Our Hero" T-shirts Sunday for the trip to Washington D.C.|
• "Thanks millions over for a Super story on a Extra Super Hero for all the world to admire. I saw him on the evening news earlier in the week. When you talk with him express our heartfelt thanks to him from all of Las Cruces and again many, many thanks for your story."
SFC Retired US Army
While having a nutrition shake this morning (Thursday, July 7), I happened to sit next to a Las Cruces police officer and former Marine. I told him about my upcoming trip to Washington and the award my cousin was to receive. He said I better tell my cousin what a a hero he is to all former servicemen and women. And you bet I will. So many people who have never met Leroy want me to pass along a hug, a handshake, a heartfelt thanks to my cousin. One of the first things I'll do after I see my cousin in Washington will be to pass along all the well wishes from his New Mexican brethren.
If you would like to send along a note to Leroy, please email me at lpeerman@lcsun-news and I'll make sure to pass along the note.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Leroy Petry, in red, hangs out with cousins in Santa Fe, circa 1992. Pictured in front are Michael Petry, Samantha Drysdale
and Lucas Peerman. In back are Steven Drysdale and Leroy, who would both became Army Rangers.
|Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry, 31, in red, is a Santa Fe native and one of five boys born to Larry and Lorella Petry. His brothers, from left, are Lloyd, 32, Lincoln, 18, Lyndon, almost 19, and Larry Armando, 33.|
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — The soldiers who served with the Army sergeant set to receive the Medal of Honor next month because of his actions in Afghanistan say he’s a hero’s hero.