Andrew Wade, United States Army, died in Afghanistan on March 9, 2011. I attended his funeral with the Cub Scouts of Pack 42, Lake Bluff, Illinois.   During the wake, my friend Eric Kuhn pulled me aside to meet someone.

A pleasant and seemingly appreciative woman talked to me about the things I wrote after another military funeral nine months earlier.

I came to realize that she was the mother of Christopher Antonik, a Marine. She told me that she did not know about the story behind these photos until she read what I wrote.

Today, December 3, 2012, I read that Secretary of the Navy traveled to Camp Pendleton to make an award of the Navy Cross. Except for the Medal of Honor, it is the highest award for combat valor.

SECNAV Ray Mabus decorated William Soutra.

About a dozen Marines of Company B, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion were engaged by the Taliban over two days in Sangin District of Helmand province. Sergeant Soutra performed heroically, safeguarding his Marine element and eventually defeating the enemy. Three other members of the element were awarded Silver Stars.


The four men called it a horrible day because they lost their element leader, Staff Sergeant Chris Antonik.

"Every day I think about Chris," said Soutra, calling him a close friend and great warrior.

Soutra vowed to try to carry on as the kind of warrior that would make Antonik proud.