Fed­er­als­burg Lions Club hon­ors lo­cal fallen he­roes

Times-Record - - Front Page - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

FED­ER­ALS­BURG — Fed­er­als­burg Lions Club mem­ber Dave Morean could not fight the tears any longer dur­ing a sur­prise pre­sen­ta­tion for two fallen Fed­er­als­burg he­roes at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual crab feast Thurs­day, Aug. 24.

Morean broke down when pre­sent­ing ban­ners to the par­ents of fallen sol­ders Michael Ed­ward “Mikey” Yates Jr. and Manuel An­to­nio “Man­nie” Ruiz.

Each ban­ner fea­tures Ruiz and Yates in uni­form, with their years of ser­vice and the branch they served in. The ban­ners will hang in town, and the fam­i­lies also re­ceived a ban­ner.

Ruiz, 21, was a U.S. Navy para­medic who died in a he­li­copter crash in Fe­bru­ary 2007 in Iraq. Ruiz was two weeks into his sec­ond tour of duty in the coun­try.

Ruiz’s death in­spired his par­ents, Lisa and Manuel Ruiz of Fed­er­als­burg, to first in­tro­duce in Novem­ber 2007 the idea of hon­or­ing all of the town’s fallen he­roes with a memo­rial.

In May 2009, the town lost its sec­ond na­tive in the Iraq con­flict, when Yates, 19, a Colonel Richard­son High School grad­u­ate, along with four other mil­i­tary per­son­nel were shot and killed by Sgt. John. M. Rus­sell at a mil­i­tary coun­sel­ing clinic at Camp Lib­erty in Baghdad. Rus­sell was was suf­fer­ing from com­bat stress.

Yates was serv­ing as a cav­alry scout as­signed to the 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 66th Ar­mor Reg­i­ment, 172nd In­fantry Brigade, Grafen­woehr, Ger­many. He re­ceived a Bronze Star for his ser­vice.

Ev­ery year, his mother hosts a Lib­erty 5 Memo­rial Ride in honor of her son and the other five men that were shot that day; Army Spc. Ja­cob D. Bar­ton, Army Sgt. Chris­tian E. Bueno-Gal­dos, Army Maj. Matthew P. Houseal and Navy Cmdr. Charles K. Springle.

“It is very spe­cial be­cause they re­mem­ber him and won’t let him be for­got­ten,” said Yates’ mother, Shawna Van Blargan who broke down in tears dur­ing the ban­ner un­veil­ing.”

“The com­mu­nity has stood be­hind us when this hap­pened,” said Yates’ step­fa­ther Rick Van Blargan. “They have stood be­hind the Ruizes when their son died. That means a lot for a com­mu­nity to care so much about Mikey and Man­nie.”

The Van Blargans and the com­mu­nity also hon­ored Yates with the Lib­erty 5 Memo­rial Ride Satur­day, Aug. 26, at Johnny’s Tav­ern in East New Mar­ket. The ride went through the back­roads of Caro­line and Dorch­ester coun­ties and parts of Delaware.

“We’ve worked very hard to make sure that no­body for­got the five that died that day,” Rick Van Blargan said. “It is heart­warm­ing that they still re­mem­ber, and put it in the fore­front of their minds.”

Ded­i­cated in 2013, the Fed­er­als­burg Home­town Veter­ans Memo­rial sits at the cor­ner of Veter­ans Drive and state Route 318/313 and fea­tures a large, brick-paved cir­cle with a five-point star in the cen­ter. A U.S. flag flies from a pole in the cen­ter of the star, while five poles around the cir­cle fly the flags of each branch of the ser­vice.

While the paving bricks may be en­graved with the name of any ser­vice mem­ber, the cen­ter­piece of the memo­rial is four black onyx walls en­graved with the names of those Fed­er­als­burg na­tives who paid the ul­ti­mate price while serv­ing their coun­try, and a large stone in honor of Ruiz.

When Morean un­veiled the ban­ner for Ruiz, Lisa and Manuel Ruiz each were moved to tears.

“This is a won­der­ful mo­ment. Thank you to the Fed­er­als­burg Lions Club and the town of Fed­er­als­burg for all they have done to keep Man­nie’s mem­ory alive,” Lisa Ruiz said.

Manuel Ruiz said he is grate­ful to the town for hon­or­ing his son, and for help­ing to get the memo­rial built.

“We pur­sued the memo­rial be­cause we wanted to keep the me­mories of our lo­cal veter­ans alive,” he said. “Our veter­ans, our he­roes, are never for­got­ten.”

The veter­ans ban­ners are the first of a cam­paign by the Lions Club to honor lo­cal sol­diers.

“We hope to see many of these ban­ners hang­ing through­out the town,” said Fed­er­als­burg Lions Club mem­ber Wayne Cole. “We wanted to honor these two young men tonight as our kick­off.”

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Manuel and Lisa Ruiz, left, and Rick and Shawna Van Blargan hold ban­ners they re­ceived from the Fed­er­als­burg Lions Club Thurs­day, Aug 24, in honor of their late sons.

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