Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boys Return War Medals to Medal of Honor Winner's Family
Nov. 13, 2012

When his sons do well in school, Michael Mazzariello of Wallkill, N.Y., takes them to Newburgh's Antique & Collectible Shop for a special treat – G.I. Joes.
A trip in late April brought an even greater reward when a bin of soldiers' medals caught the boys' eyes. Rifling through them, Michael, 11, and Mauro, 8, came across three honors bearing the same soldier's name: Charles George. 

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The purple heart, bronze star and good conduct awards they found in the tiny New York shop belonged to the namesake of Asheville, N.C.'s Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a recipient of the United States' highest military honor, the medal of honor.

"We went in looking for a G.I. Joe Real American Hero and came out with a real American hero," the 6th grader Michael said.

The Mazzariello boys got to see the awards united with George's family at a Veteran's Day ceremony in North Carolina on Monday.

"It was the most satisfying moment of my life, to finally give the medals back to them," Michael said.

Michael and Mario Mazzariello, 8 and 11, tracked down the owner of medals found in an antique store. (Courtesy Mazzariello family). 
Terrance Berean, one of the store's owners, estimated the medals' worth at $800 because of their good condition and their unique circumstances of their origin. 

"They were from a Cherokee Indian who died supposedly from a grenade, so that escalates [their value] way up," Berean said.

However, Berean's son agreed to give the Mazzariellos the medals for free on one condition -- that they find their rightful owner.

Using a combination of state senators, veterans and YouTube, the boys were able to determine that these were the medals of an American hero.

On Nov. 30, 1952, George, whose Cherokee name "Tsali" means self-sacrifice, threw himself on a grenade that killed him, but saved those fighting in his company during the Korean War. His legacy was honored not only by his local Eastern Band Cherokee community, but also by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Eisenhower invited George's parents to Washington D.C. to receive the honors on their son's behalf and though they held tight to the Medal of Honor, their son's other awards somehow got lost. 

Sixty years after George died serving the United States, the medals honoring his service were finally reunited with his family. Michael and Mauro spoke to a crowd gathered to honor veterans, bringing both tears and smiles to attendees' faces.

"There were standing ovations, crying, crazy emotional. And it was wonderful for us to meet Charles George's family – nieces, nephews, crazy," the Mazzariellos' father Michael said.

After this journey, young Michael has decided he too wants to serve his country.

"I want to be a doctor for the military so I can help fix them," he said.

Republicans skip Benghazi hearing; complain about lack of information on Benghazi
Posted By Josh Rogin Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 10:37 AM

This week, a number of Republican senators have strongly criticized the administration for failing to properly explain the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Some of those senators failed to show up for a briefing on the attack Wednesday.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been the leading congressional critic of the administration's handling of the Benghazi attack and what he sees as the administration's lack of candor with Congress on the matter. On Wednesday, he pledged to block the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to Rice's statements on the attack. That drew a sharp rebuke from President Barack Obama at Wednesday's press conference.

But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn't attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.

Committee ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) called out McCain for skipping the briefing and said his call for a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack was not necessary because the Homeland Security committee could handle it.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), "who was there at briefing, and Senator McCain, who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles," Collins told Politico.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Homeland Security committee member who was on television complaining about the lack of Benghazi information, also did not show up for the Wednesday hearing. Paul did a CNN interview from the Capitol building Wednesday in which said he had questions about the anti-Islam video, the lack of Marines in Libya, and diplomatic security. At one point he says, "I don't know enough of the details."

The closed and classified briefing included representatives from the State Department, the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the FBI, an administration official said. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a classified hearing on Benghazi on Tuesday and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold one Thursday, but McCain and Paul are not members of either of those committees.

"If you want answers, a good first step is to show up and ask a question," an administration official told The Cable. "That's what a senator does."

UPDATE: According to his spokesman Brian Rogers, "Senator McCain was absent from the hearing due to a scheduling error."

UPDATE #2: Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley tells The Cable: "Sen. Paul didn't need to attend yet another Administration press conference disguised as a classified briefing to know there should have been Marines defending our personnel in Libya, to hear the Administration make the same excuses in private they will make in public. Sen. Paul is focused on demanding answers, demanding those who made these fatal mistake be fired, and fixing the mess this Administration has made. All of that needs to be done in public, for Americans to see and hear."