State Representative Haraz N. Ghanbari (R-Perrysburg) and State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Huron) presented the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction to three Gold Star Families during an Ohio legislative ceremony at the Statehouse Friday in conjunction with Memorial Day.
Among those recognized were the family of U.S. Navy Fleet Marine Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio.
Soviak, a Sailor assigned to 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif., was killed during an attack at the Abbey Gates of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2021 while supporting Operation Allies Refuge.
"I was humbled to be with Max's family today. The ceremony served as a sobering reminder that freedom is never free," said Gavarone. "This Memorial Day, I hope you will join me in solemnly commemorating the brave members of the greatest military in the world, those like Max, whose higher call and honorable service allow us to enjoy all the trademarks of the American life."
The two legislators also met with the families of U.S. Army Sgt. Joseph P. Collette and U.S. Army Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer.
“It was our solemn honor to represent the 132 members of the Ohio General Assembly in the presentation of the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction to these families,” said Ghanbari, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and the chairman of the Ohio House Armed Services and Veteran Affairs Committee. “Service above self is part of the legacy I’ll remember when I think of my fellow comrades Max, Joseph and Brandon; we shall never forget their courage and sacrifice on behalf of Ohioans and our nation.”
Collettee, 29, of Fountain, Colo., who was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio, died from wounds sustained in combat operations in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, March 22, 2019. He was in the 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 62nd Ordnance Company, 71st Ordnance Group stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, was killed by small arms fire, July 29, 2019, in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Following the presentation of the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction, Gavorone and Ghanbari attended Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Wreath-Laying Ceremony honoring Ohio's service members and their families ahead of Memorial Day.