American bravery

This time of year is one where we celebrate our collective Independence and reflect on the sacrifices that make it possible.

Several military individuals and units with local connections have made headlines recently, and we'd like to take this time to recognize them.

Sgt. 1st Class Dennis C. Allred

Allred was awarded the Combat Action Badge for his bravery April 15 in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. Allred, according to the Missouri National Guard, was one of 23 to receive the award. Allred is a member of the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team, which arrived in Afghanistan in March. The team has been working with farmers there to create a sustainable agriculture program.

Several Missouri Guardsmen were wounded in the attack, but none was killed. Allred could not be reached for comment as he is still serving overseas, but a Guardsman from St. Louis said "Allred immediately took control of the east side of the building with one of the majors. If they had gotten past Allred, they would have had free reign of the base."

Elliott Miller, retired Navy SEAL

Miller, formerly from Cape Girardeau and a Notre Dame Regional High School graduate, but currently residing in the San Diego area, was given a new home recently, thanks to a partnership between Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation. The Texas-based charity gives homes to veterans wounded in combat.

Miller needed a house that could accommodate his wheelchair. Miller, according to a story published in the San Diego Union Tribune, was wounded in 2006 when his sniper position was hit by grenade; Miller then got caught in the blast of an improvised bomb. According to the article, Miller lost part of a leg and suffered a brain injury that claimed his ability to speak. He communicates through electronic devices, such as an iPad.

"It just means the world to me," Miller, 34, was quoted as saying. "It gives me and my family a sense of security, secure in the knowledge that I was not forgotten. My family is safe in secure housing forever, a home that we will not have to think about selling and moving every two to three years."

1st Lt. Warren Moxley

Moxley was killed in action during World War II, but he was never properly laid to rest until Tuesday.

Less than 10 years before his death, Moxley had graduated in 1938 from Charleston High School.

Moxley, then 22, joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943, and died March 15, 1945 after flying 66 missions. He was piloting a plane over Germany when it was hit, and his remains were thought to be "nonrecoverable" until 1993, when a World War II enthusiast in Germany contacted the U.S. about a crash site with human remains he found near Asbach, Germany.

On March 29, 1994, Army officials took the remains recovered from Jirousek and compared them against DNA from surviving family members. There was no match in 1994, but officials later learned that the remains turned over originally were from a couple of crash sites. Eventually, some remains were found to be Moxley's.

The remains were returned to Moxley's family.

On Tuesday, Moxley was given a proper burial.

National Guard's 1138th

Two squads of the second platoon of the Missouri National Guard's 1138th Engineer Sapper Company from Southeast Missouri are among the nearly 100 citizen soldiers from Missouri who trained last week in Nevada, Mo., to prepare for route-clearing duties in Afghanistan.

The soldiers loaded their gear into Humvees and began patrolling the roads of Camp Clark to practice scouting for mines, improvised explosive devices, suspicious people and other hidden dangers.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most dangerous jobs out there," said Spc. Timothy Reed of Fredericktown, Mo. Reed has suffered brain injuries from explosives in past deployments, but has since recovered, he said. Among those doing the training were Spc. John Gilman, 27, of Jackson.

These brave soldiers represent only a few of those who have sacrificed so much for all of us. We thank these men specifically, and all of our military generally for serving on our behalf. Thank you. And God bless.