Wednesday, April 10, 2013
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
OKLAHOMA CITY - Jane Horton of Owasso accepted the state's Gold Star Medal on Tuesday on behalf of her late husband, Spc. Christopher Horton, during a joint legislative session honoring the 45th Infantry Division and Oklahoma National Guard.
Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, said it was the first ceremony to award the medal to a soldier who lost his life performing a deed of bravery or self-sacrifice during combat after Sept. 11, 2001.
Horton was a sniper who was killed in action Sept. 9, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan with the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Newberry said.
"Spc. Horton was killed when his unit was attacked with small arms fire in Zormat, Paktia Province," he said.
"On behalf of the citizens of the great state of Oklahoma and our beloved nation, the United States of America, we offer our deepest gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice which Spc. Christopher David Horton made for his country and honor his life by the presentation of the Oklahoma Gold Star Medal of Honor on this 9th day of April, 2013."
The Legislature also awarded the Oklahoma Gold Star Medal to 2nd Lt. Jered Wayne Ewy, 33, of Edmond, who was killed July 29, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. His widow, Megan Ewy, accepted the award on his behalf.
"Lt. Ewy was killed when his unit was attacked with roadside bombs in Paktia, Afghanistan," said Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond.
Gov. Mary Fallin said, "We are recognizing today the great sacrifice Jane Horton and Megan Ewy and their spouses have made, and each and every one of the men and women that have given their service to our nation to fight for our freedom, for our liberty, for our Constitution and the great things this nation was founded upon."
Hundreds gathered in the House Chamber for the annual ceremony, which drew a standing-room-only crowd.
Nineteen Oklahoma National Guard members have died since Sept. 11, 2001, said Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, Oklahoma's adjutant general.
"Their memory is etched upon our hearts, and we are more committed than ever to continue their cause," he said.
For every soldier killed, dozens more return with combat injuries. In many cases, their injuries take longer to heal than the war, Deering said.
"Just ask our Vietnam veterans," he said.
Regardless of federal spending cuts, "the Oklahoma National Guard will be there, always ready and always there," Deering said.
Fallin said the 45th "has served our nation proudly, with distinction, during times of peace and war."
The governor noted that the Oklahoma National Guard has been called upon during blizzards, drought, wildfires and, in 1995, to respond in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which left 168 people dead and hundreds more injured.