By Master Sgt. Gerrold Johnson, US Army Public Affairs-MidwestMay 2, 2007
May 1, 2007, Chicago, Ill. - Lt. Governor Pat Quinn presided at a ceremony marking May 1, 2007, as the first annual Silver Star Banner Day in Illinois. Four wounded Illinois servicemembers received the Silver Star Banner in recognition of their sacrifice in service to our nation. According to the Lt. Governors office, Silver Star Banner Day is being celebrated for the first time in 22 U.S. states.
"The Silver Star Banner is given to the men and women who have served faithfully so that this world might be a better place to live," Quinn said. "Silver Star Banner Day is a day to honor the wounded who fought in the wars of the United States. Today the people of Illinois publicly express their love, respect and appreciation for their bravery and sacrifice."
Quinn presented the Silver Star Banner to two local Soldiers and two Sailors. Staff Sgt. Michael Erlandson of New Port Richey, Florida, and Sgt. Neal Bonham of Elmira, New York, are both assigned to the Chicago Recruiting Battlion. Staff Sgt. Erlandson was injured in October 2003 in Iraq after his armored vehicle struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He suffered a concussion, temporary blindness and deafness. Erlandson was previously awarded the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.
Sgt. Bonham was injured in December 2005 in Iraq in an IED explosion. He suffered blunt force trauma to his knee, among other injuries. Despite his injured state, Sgt. Bonham carried his fellow wounded service members to safety during the attack. For his heroic efforts, Sgt. Bonham also received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor.
The Silver Star Banner is given to any service member who has honorably served or is currently serving, in a war zone, and has been wounded by enemy action, injured by other means, or has contracted a serious illness that can be rated at least 10 percent disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Such illnesses include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Gulf War Syndrome, or exposure to Agent Orange. Quinn says, to receive the Silver Star Banner, an individual does not have to be eligible for the Purple Heart or any other military decoration.
Also honored during the ceremony were Navy HM3 (ret.) Jose Sanchez of Freeport, Ill., and Navy Reservist EO2 Harold Beville of Sauk Village, Ill., for extensive injuries received while serving in Iraq.
For more information on Silver Star Banner Day and how to nominate a wounded soldier to receive this honor, please visit: www.OperationHomefront.org.