Fallen soldier forever remembered, family donates Medal of Honor

By Jillian Marshall

February 7, 2014 Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 7:22 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Within the United States there are less than 3,500 Medals of Honor. Six are in Broome County and now one will be on display at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena forever.

The family of Sgt. Lester Stone Jr., of Harpursville, turned over his Congressional Medal of Honor to Broome County at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Friday afternoon.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force while serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

Sgt. Stone died in the line of duty during the Vietnam War in 1969.

During a battle, he held off enemy fire long enough for a wounded solider to be rescued. He was fatally wounded in the process.

Stone was 21 years old.

"Doris recently said, you know I've had this in my living room, except for the time when Doug Wheelock took it in space, I've had it in my living room for over 40 years, I'd like it to be out in the community," said family friend Rick Blythe.

Doris added that this is a symbol of her son's sacrifice and that now it belongs to the county.

At the ceremony, Congressman Richard Hanna (R) and County Executive Debbie Preston (R) both spoke.

"Words can't even describe what this means, for someone to receive this prestigious medal means so much and for this to be the final resting place and to the family that means so much, and for this to be on display forever," Preston said.

Local leaders said they hope this medal display will help spark conversation about Sgt. Stone's dedication and sacrifice.

"Here we are almost 45 years later, million of miles it has gone, into outer space, around the earth, and here it will come to its final resting place in the Broome County Veterans Arena, to have the public come in and see this - what better tribute to his family and him," said Broome County Legislator Jerry Marinich (R).

The prestigious award will be displayed on the second floor of the Arena.

The county has to follow specific guidelines from the U.S. Army when they constructed the display case, like having bullet proof glass.

Preston said she hopes to have the display case up as soon as possible.

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