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November 16. 2012 7:23PM

State holds medal of honor ceremony for fallen soldier


Gov. John Lynch talks about the National Guard Medal of Honor with Nancy Geary, mother of Lance Cpl. Michael Geary, after Friday's ceremony at the State House. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

CONCORD - At the state's first ceremony to award the New Hampshire National Guard Medal of Honor nearly two years ago, a moment of silence was held for Marin Lance Cpl. Michael Geary of Derry, who had recently been killed.

Friday, Geary's family was presented the medal of honor at the state's second award ceremony.

About 30 family and close friends attended the ceremony honoring two marines, a pilot and a soldier along with state elected officials, National Guard and other military personnel, veterans and State House visitors.

Gov. John Lynch, who signed the bill creating the state medal of honor in 2007, thanked the families for their sacrifices.

"To the families who lost loved ones, I feel, we all feel so badly for your loss," Lynch said. "I know the void in your heart will never be filled."

He said the families are owed an extreme debt of gratitude for their sacrifices, and he hopes the medal will be reminders of their loved ones.

"Thank you for giving your loved ones for the protection of us all," Lynch said.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte both thanked the families for what their loved ones gave so all Americans can enjoy freedom and liberty.

"There really is no way we can understand the loss you have experienced," Shaheen said. "All we can do is express our appreciation for what you have given through your loved ones."

"We can never repay the debt we owe to all of you," Ayotte said. "The medal will let you know how proud we are of their service."

Family members were escorted individually to the front of the Executive Council Chamber to receive their medal from Lynch and Guard Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann.

Honored were:

US Army Spc. Nicholas Bernier of East Kingston, a 2007 Exeter High graduate, who died of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit in Afghanistan in 2011.

US Air Force Capt. Michael L. Chinburg grew up in Durham. He was killed in a Desert Storm night training mission Jan. 8, 1991, when his F-16 crashed in the Saudi desert.

Marine helicopter pilot Capt. Gary Dillon of Concord died in October 1991 in operation Desert Storm when his helicopter disappeared over the ocean while on a training flight.

Geary of Derry was killed in battle in Helmand Province in Dec. 8, 2010, while serving on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was 20 and a 2009 graduate of Pinkerton Academy.

According to the program the medal "Personified the dignity, integrity and valor of the brave servicemen and servicewomen who have proudly represented their home state and given the 'last full measure of devotion' in defense of their country."

At the first medal of honor ceremony, 54 men and women who died in the line of duty were honored.

grayno@unionleader.com


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