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Gold Star event to honor Army medic, family

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A local American Legion post is holding a Gold Star ceremony for the family of a combat medic who died in 2018 from injuries in Iraq in 2015.

Mark Earnest served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard for more than 20 years. (Submitted Photo)

The public is invited to the ceremony to include a recognition of Mark Stewart Earnest’s life, said Stephen Lee, the commander of the Norman E. Harpole American Legion Post 61. A presentation of a flag and a plaque to his parents, Maureen and Thomas Earnest, also is planned.

The event is scheduled for 3 p.m. April 18 at the First United Methodist Church, 200 N. Pennsylvania Ave.

Lee said other families and soldiers could be honored that day if additional people are identified and want to participate.

Earnest entered basic training at 17 as a junior at Roswell High School, said his mother. He returned to serve in the U.S. Army National Guard and finish high school, graduating in 1989. Then he joined the Army.

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He served in both the Army and the National Guard for more than 20 years and participated in five tours of duty in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

“He taught medics how to save lives,” Maureen Earnest said, “and he taught the regular soldiers if they were injured what to do to help each other and survive.”

She said her son was in Iraq in 2015 when an improvised explosive device or IED went off near him, throwing him backwards and resulting in injuries to his head and back that were considered the cause of his death. He passed away in Roswell at the age of 47 on Feb. 7, 2018.

In tribute to mothers and families of fallen soldiers, the American Legion Post 61 holds two Gold Star ceremonies a year, one in September and one in April.