Weymouth native in Navy honored for work in Iraq | MassCops

Weymouth native in Navy honored for work in Iraq

Discussion in 'Military News' started by kwflatbed, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Weymouth native receives Bronze Star Medal for clearing improvised explosive devices in Iraq


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    GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
    Weymouth native Lt. Cmdr. Barry Kertanis shows the Bronze Star Medal he received for his role in clearing improvised explosive devices.


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    GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
    bronzestar gh 062008-88.jpg Kertanis is shown in his field uniform. The Weymouth native did two tours of duty in Iraq.


    By Jack Encarnacao
    The Patriot Ledger
    Posted Jul 01, 2008 @ 06:36 AM
    Last update Jul 01, 2008 @ 06:44 AM

    WEYMOUTH —
    In military parlance, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Barry Kertanis specializes in systems that counter improvised explosive devices, the hidden bombs that are one of the chief dangers to military personnel in Iraq.
    Often what that job description means for Kertanis is entering and surveying perilous territory outside designated “safe zones” before the ground forces do. It’s called “going outside the wire,” and it’s in that context that Kertanis was assigned to maintain and field systems that ensure the path ahead is safe.
    He’s an “electronic warfare officer,” and his performances under pressure recently led to him being awarded the Bronze Star medal.
    “Apparently they thought my service was meritorious,” said Kertanis, 38. “I was a bit surprised and obviously I was honored. Personally, I don’t think I did anything extraordinary. Just doing my job.”
    The award came after Kertanis, a father of three and a 1988 graduate of Weymouth High School, voluntarily stepped outside of his comfort zone as a Navy pilot to work on the ground with an Army brigade in Iraq for 10 months.
    “The Army needed assistance so I volunteered to go help them,” he said. “There’s hundreds of us that volunteer to do it. ... The bonds you build with the guys in the air is just the same as on the ground.”
    To earn the trust of Army soldiers, Kertanis said he ventured into dangerous territory a lot more than his job description required.
    “I just chose to to build a rapport and build some trust with the guys,” he said. “You’re just trying to show your trust in your own capabilities and build theirs. You’re one team, and you’ve got to do things as a team.”
    Kertanis’ wife, Susan, a Randolph native who met her husband at 16 when both were working a summer job at a Braintree restaurant, said her spouse is prone to downplaying the perils of his commitment.
    “He did tell me a little bit more in-depth what he was doing and yeah, it churned my stomach,” she said. “You know it in the back of your head, but to hear it definitely opens your eyes a little bit more. ... He definitely believes in what he does.”
    Kertanis is stationed in Norfolk, Va., but he has been assigned to parts of the Middle East and Europe, and been stationed in such places as San Diego and Japan. He’s had two tours in Iraq, once in 2004 and another last year.
    His most recent tour ended a bit prematurely when his father, an Army veteran, died at 75 on June 6 after an illness. Kertanis had about three weeks remaining on his tour, but was allowed to return home.
    “He’d been ill for the last two years and bed-ridden,” Kertanis said of his father. “Just a long battle that came to end.”
    Though the occasion was somber, Kertanis still felt a whirlwind effect coming back to his hometown and catching up with everybody. Services for his father were only a few days after he returned to Massachusetts from Iraq, on a Monday. By the weekend, he and his family were on their way back to Virginia, where Kertanis returned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22.

    http://www.patriotledger.com/homepage/x1816438570/Weymouth-native-in-Navy-honored-for-work-in-Iraq
     

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