• September 19, 2014

3rd Brigade honors its fallen

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Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 12:00 pm | Updated: 5:03 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

All four of the soldiers honored Thursday received Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Posthumously.

All deployed with the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team in July. All were infantrymen in the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment. All died in October.

Sgt. Preston R. Medley, Spc. Stephen R. Fortunato, Spc. Cory J. Bertrand and Sgt. John Penich were remembered during a memorial ceremony Thursday at Fort Hood. Medley, Fortunato and Bertrand died Oct. 14 in Qazi Bandeh, Afghanistan, when their vehicle encountered a roadside bomb, according to the Defense Department.

Medley loved being an infantryman, said Pfc. Justin Jones, speaking for a soldier in Medley’s unit in Afghanistan. The soldier was a brand-new private when he met Medley, and the sergeant helped him become a better soldier and man. Medley, of Baker, Fla., was 23 at the time of his death.

His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal (second award), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, the NATO-ISAF Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Parachutist Badge and the Combat Infantry Badge.

He is survived by his wife, Sarah; their daughter, Kaelynn; and his parents, Reybon Medley and Carolyn Bowen.

Fortunato was the kind of guy with whom you could talk about anything, said Pfc. Nicholas Krepp. He would also give an honest opinion and advice. He was a friend who had a devoted and positive attitude. Fortunato was stop-lossed before the brigade deployed to Afghanistan, and where some soldiers might rant and rave, he took it in stride and said, “At least I’ll get to do what I joined to do,” Krepp said.

Fortunato died at 25, doing what he wanted to do — fighting for his country, Krepp said.

Fortunato was a native of Danvers, Mass. His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, NATO-ISAF medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and Combat Infantry Badge.

He is survived by his wife, Sherri Lee Fortunato; and his parents, Richard Fortunato and Elizabeth Crawford.

Bertrand was an 18-year-old native Texan who joined the military in January 2007. “Berty” was like a brother, Jones read on behalf of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan. He was one of the cockiest, which made him one of the best soldiers he knew, Jones said. He always did his job and did it well.

Bertrand’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, NATO-ISAF medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Arm Service Ribbon and Combat Infantry Badge.

He is survived by his parents, William Nelams and Charlotte Bertrand Allen.

Penich died Oct. 16 in Karangol Village, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from indirect fire, according to the Defense Department.

Penich was 25 at the time of his death. The Beach Park, Ill., native’s awards and decorations include the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation medal, Army Achievement Medal (third award), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, NATO-ISAF Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Parachutist Badge, Expert Infantry Badge and Combat Infantry Badge.

He is survived by his father, James Penich, and his mother and stepfather, Kathleen and Michael Garross.

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