GIVE MEDAL OF LIBERTY TO PEOPLE WHO DIE DURING TRAINING EXERCISES

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 37-0, approved an amendment that would expand eligibility for the Medal of Liberty to include families of service members who died during training exercises. Current law awards the medal to Massachusetts service men and women who have been killed in action or who died in service while in a designated combat area in the line of duty or who died from wounds received in action.

Sen. John Velis (D-Westfield) told the story of Air Force Lt. Col. Morris “Moose” Fontenot Jr., a Longmeadow resident who died in 2014 after his F-15C Eagle fighter jet crashed during a routine flight. Under 2014 and current law, Fontenot was not and is not eligible for the Medal of Liberty.

“There is an expression in the military,” said Velis. “‘Train as you fight, fight as you train.’ In order to be the best, you need to train to be the best and with that training comes its own set of dangers. Lt. Col. Fontenot’s story is not alone. We have service members completing missions and trainings like him every single day. It is imperative that we recognize the dangers that these even routine missions present and properly honor the sacrifices of all of our service members.”

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