By Louie Graves
A Nashville soldier, honorably discharged more than 25 years ago after serving in both the Arkansas National Guard and the U.S. Army, was presented medals postumously in a ceremony, last Wednesday.
His daughter, Amber, accepted the medals earned by the late Steve Mark Martin, in front of an appreciative crowd of fellow clients at the Howard County Children’s Center. Martin died in a Hot Springs house fire in 2012.
When he was asked about a grave-marker, Howard County Veterans Service Officer Milton Puryear became curious about any military awards due to Martin.
“Sometimes someone is separated from active duty before awards are presented, and the Army doesn’t go looking for them,” Puryear explained why Martin had not received the medals.
Puryear is also affiliated with the Children’s Center as a bus driver, and he knew the medal recipient’s daughter.
Puryear researched Martin’s military history and discovered that he was due several significant awards including the Valorous Unit Citation, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Martin served in the invasion of Panama, ‘Operation Just Cause.’
Puryear explained tat the Valorous Unit Citation was for “Extraordinary Heroism” for the whole military unit. It is the equivalent of the Silver Star for the unit, he said.
The medals were presented at the HCCC workshop. Present were relatives of Amber and her father.