Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, presented the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal to Russell Middleton, 29, an active-duty Air Force TSgt. who served in Afghanistan from September 2010 to March 2011.
The medal was awarded posthumously to Middleton's grandfather, Herman Cronan, Sr., a World War II veteran. Posthumous awards are usually presented to the next of kin, in this case, Shawn Cronan, but he wanted his step-son, Russell Middleton, to receive the award instead.
"The torch of liberty passes from one generation to the next," Adley said in presenting the medal. "The tree of liberty requires sacrifice by all of us. It goes from one generation to the next."
At least three generations of the Cronan-Middleton family have served in the nation's armed forces. Medal-recipient Herman Cronan, Sr., served in WWII as a Seabee and helped to rebuild Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, following the Japanese invasion there on Dec. 7, 1941, which launched America's entry into the war. He died in 2009.
His son, Shawn Cronan, is a disabled veteran who served during Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Shawn Cronan, also a Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal recipient, currently lives in the New Orleans area. He, his wife, Peggy, and other family members made the trip from New Orleans to Benton for the presentation.
Middleton is currently at Barksdale Air Force Base for training. He is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.
He recently received an Associate's Degree in aviation maintenance technology from the Community College of the Air Force. He is married to Megan Boyd Middleton. The couple has two children, Kahlen and Noah.
In 2008, Adley sponsored the original legislation creating the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal to recognize and honor all Louisiana veterans.
Adley's bill, Senate Bill 644, was unanimously approved by both the House and the Senate.
Any veteran who served in the U.S. armed forces during wartime or peacetime is eligible for the Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal.
The veteran must have received an honorable discharge or died prior to separation. To be eligible for the medal, veterans must have lived in Louisiana at the time of their entry into the service or be a current resident.
Those who lived in Louisiana at the time of death are also eligible. Herman Cronan, Sr., lived in Gretna, La., at the time of his death.
Russell Middleton will be eligible for the medal when he leaves the service.
Veterans seeking the medal must submit a copy of their DD-214 discharge papers to the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.
Medals are being presented during special ceremonies throughout Louisiana at appointed times.