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The sad Santa Rosa connection to today’s Medal of Honor ceremony

President Barack Obama this afternoon awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Ranger Sgt. Leroy Petry for “extraordinary heroism” shown during a raid on a Taliban compound in Afghanistan in 2008. It marked only the second time since the Vietnam War that the honor has been given to a living recipient.

Leroy received the commendation for grabbing a live grenade and tossing it away, likely saving the lives of two fellow servicemen. Unfortunately, the grenade went off, severing Leroy’s hand.

One of the people who died during that same firefight on May 26, 2008 was 21-year-old Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole of Santa Rosa. He was the first North Coast soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan.

Gathercole’s brother, Edward Gathercole of Santa Rosa, was at the White House ceremony – and stood when recognized by the president.

Here’s a link to a Washington Post photo gallery of the ceremony.

- Paul Gullixson





14 Responses to “The sad Santa Rosa connection to today’s Medal of Honor ceremony”

  1. Angela Avery says:

    Our freedom has been bought and paid for by the brave men and women who serve our country. We are all indebted to them, and especially to the ones that make the ultimate sacrifice.

    Both Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole and Army Ranger Sgt. Leroy Petry should be honored for their sacrifices and heroics, along with the multitudes that continue fighting in the name of freedom.

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  2. Steveguy says:

    Shot in both legs, Army Ranger Leroy Petry suddenly found a live grenade at his feet during a battle with insurgents in Afghanistan. He had time to drag his body around a wall to save himself but, with other soldiers in deadly range, he grabbed the grenade and tossed it aside. He lost his hand and part of his arm when the device exploded.

    Bolted to Petry’s prosthetic arm is a plaque with the names of fallen Rangers from his 75th Regiment, but there is even more to his story:
    Given his wounds, he could have retired from the Army with honor. Instead, the 31-year-old father of four re-enlisted indefinitely. He recently returned from his eighth deployment.

    Just more info.

    Well done Press Democrat for reminding us of the sacrifices that young men and families endure in war.

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  3. Craig B says:

    To the family of Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole we are so proud of your son. We are very fortunate that men like him have walked this earth. We are humbled by his service, it will never be forgotten.

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  4. Dee says:

    My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole. A calling to serve our country is the hightest of callings. The courage and bravery are beyond my comprehnsion. Our country is able to live in a state of freedom because of his sacrifice. May you feel the pride Christopher felt serving his fellow citizens. Blessings to you all until you meet again.

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  5. ttomasini says:

    We are free because of brave volunteers such as Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole who chose to follow his honorable calling. He is a role model and will be deeply missed.

    May he rest with God.

    Until we see him again. Thank you for serving.

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  6. Debby says:

    My prayers join with many for the family of Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole. His life given for many was not in vain. Thank you to all of our service men and women and their families who selflessly give of themselves to keep us free!

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  7. Moezy says:

    The loss of Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole at age 21 is sorrowful news. It is because of brave soldiers, such as Christoper, that we can continue to appreciate the freedoms offered under the US Constitution.

    Prayers to his family and friends whose hearts must be aching.

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  8. Larry White says:

    To the family of Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole. Mere words cannot convey the sorrow I feel, losing yet another fine young American hero in the cause of liberty! Your families sacrifice is not in vain, as our cause is just. I’m very proud of all our fine young men and women volunteering in our nations military to protect our dear freedoms! God bless Christopher and his family.

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  9. Michelle Kralovec says:

    There is probably not a day that goes by
    that Christopher’s family does not think of him. To lose such a fine young man at such a young age is heart breaking. But Christopher’s gift to America was not in vain. Because of his bravery and selfless act, he joins the heroic men and women that helped make America free. You had a wonderful son and brother for too short a time, but long enough to make you so proud. So sorry for your loss and our prayers are with you,

    Michelle Kralovec

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  10. Lynn Fleck says:

    My heart goes out to the families of
    Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole and Army Ranger Sgt. Leroy Petry
    Truly the ultimate sacrifice to lose your child. Our family appreciates these two men’s service to our country and their sacrifice. They were so very brave. Words can not express well enough our condolences.

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  11. Katha Engblom says:

    The families of these heroic young men are in my prayers, we are forever indebted to you for your sacrifices.

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  12. AMarycan says:

    Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole and Army Ranger Sgt. Leroy Petry-

    Two real men that faced danger and fought back. I appreciate their service and dedication to our country.
    God bless them and their families.

    We need more men like these.

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  13. Skippy says:

    Duty, honor, country.
    No higher calling.
    Ave atque vale.

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  14. Jim Judd says:

    One of many examples of our Countries finest and why freedom is not free. Over 50% of the recipients receive this award posthumously. The heroism shown by Army Ranger Stg. Leroy Petry is a testament of American strength and Patriotism coming from one of many selfless individuals serving in our armed forces. Army Specialist Christopher Gathercole unselfishly gave his life paying the ultimate sacrifice, deserves our respect, our prayers and our thanks. To the family of Christopher, thank you and you too are in my prayers.

    As with all those who sacrifice so much to protect us here at home, I want to thank you and your families.

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