BRUSSELS Aca,!" A U.S. Army Garrison Brussels military policeman participated in the ceremony to mark NATOAca,!a,,cs 60th Anniversary April 5 in Strasbourg, France, serving as the U.S. flag bearer during the opening ceremony.

Sgt. Justin Eader, a native of Damascus, Md, was selected due in part to his combat service in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a member of the 82nd Airborne DivisionAca,!a,,cs Task Force DIABLO. His service with TF DIABLO in Pakistan was part of NATOAca,!a,,cs International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Aca,!A"The call went out at NATO Headquarters for NATO service members from all the member nations to provide participants for the ceremonies associated with the summit,Aca,!A? explained U.S. Navy Capt. Gary Shoman, chief of staff to the U.S. Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee. Aca,!A"For the particular ceremony Sgt. Eader was considered for as the United States participant, the nominees had to have served on NATO missions. Sgt. Eader was one of several U.S. candidates, and, on the strength of his nomination package, he was chosen as one of the U.S. participants by Vice Admiral [William D.] Sullivan, [U.S. Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee.]Aca,!A?

USAG Brussels Command Sgt. Maj. Tony Cordova was not surprised that Eader was selected.

Aca,!A"His record was absolutely outstanding, and it wasnAca,!a,,ct hard for us to nominate him for this honor,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Not only has Sgt. Eader served as a NATO Soldier in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but heAca,!a,,cs a recipient of the NATO Meritorious Service Medal for a 2007 combat action with TF DIABLO when it was part of ISAF.Aca,!A?

Incidentally, despite the seeming equivalence of the NATO Meritorious Service Medal with its U.S. counterpart decoration, the NATO version actually calls for a higher level of achievement. The accompanying award recommendation, under Aca,!A"Circumstances of Commendation,Aca,!A? reads, Aca,!A"For acts of courage under direct fire and assisting in the evacuation of his fellow Soldiers.Aca,!A?

EaderAca,!a,,cs award recommendation was initiated by Gen. Dan K McNeill, then-ISAF commander, endorsed by Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. John Craddock, and by the then-Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Gen. Ray Henault, and approved by the NATO Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cve seen the signatures in the completed citation form,Aca,!A? said Cordova. Aca,!A"No doubt about it, Sgt. EaderAca,!a,,cs heroism came to the attention of some very senior people.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"There were 28 of us chosen, one from each of the NATO member nations, mostly Soldiers, but also some members of other services,Aca,!A? recalled Eader.

Aca,!A"It was a great experience,Aca,!A? he noted. Aca,!A"I got to be very friendly with a number of [international ceremony participants]Aca,!A| a Danish sergeant major, a Romanian sergeant, a Brit, a Canadian Lance Corporal and a Croat,Aca,!A? he recalled. Aca,!A"All were very patriotic, and all were very interested in America. There was definitely a feeling of kinship; I guess Soldiers have a lot in common the world over.Aca,!A?

Eader, who is very modest about his accomplishments, also noticed that his peers were very impressed by him. Aca,!A"We spent a lot of time telling each other our war stories, and it only dawned on me near the end, from the questions I was getting, that I guess mine were the best. I really didnAca,!a,,ct plan that,Aca,!A? he chuckled.

Eader had an extra treat in store. His father and mother were fortuitously in Europe visiting his sister and brother-in-law, who live in Germany.

Aca,!A"They all came down to see me on Friday morning, and we had lunch, before I had to go to an evening ceremony rehearsal. It was great to see them,Aca,!A? he said.

The family also had the opportunity to see Eader on TV because of the heavy European television coverage of the summit.

Summit day featured an early reveille April 5, and busing to the conference site. Each of the ceremony participants took their place next to their delegationAca,!a,,cs flag, prominently located behind each delegation.

Aca,!A"As I was standing there, Adm. [Mike] Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came up to me and asked me about myself,Aca,!A? Eader said. Aca,!A"I told him a few things, including about my service in Afghanistan and Pakistan. When he heard IAca,!a,,cd been wounded in Pakistan, he called up Gen. James Mattis, [the U.S. Marine who is the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation], introduced me to him, and then we chatted about my experiences.

Aca,!A"Finally, Secretary [Hillary] Clinton [U.S. Secretary of State] came up to me, introduced herself, and we also talked. She remembered me from her recent visit to Brussels, and also thanked me for my service,Aca,!A? he continued.

Eader added, Aca,!A"I was really struck with how friendly they were, that they would come down to my level.Aca,!A?

Eader enjoys serving in Brussels, calling it Aca,!A"an interesting environment, with lots to do and see.Aca,!A?

But Brussels has one major drawback. His wife is also in the Army, Aca,!A"but sheAca,!a,,cs currently serving in Kuwait, and sheAca,!a,,cs assigned to a stateside unit. I canAca,!a,,ct say I enjoy the separation, but IAca,!a,,cm really looking forward to seeing her in a few weeks when sheAca,!a,,cs home on leave in the middle of her deployment.Aca,!A?