LIHU‘E — Cathy Smith was admitted to the G. N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital emergency room on Sunday and the congregation at the Breath of Life Church prayed for her speedy recovery.
Pastor Tom Iannucci, a former U.S. Marine, led the prayer. Smith was supposed to present Iannucci with a special tribute, said Christina Ensman. In her absence, Rob Sanchez of the American Legion stepped in with the help of Ensman.
“A couple of months ago, I was asked by Cathy Smith if I would consider doing a presentation to Pastor Tom on behalf of her son, Sgt. E-6 Logan Montgomery,” Sanchez said on the eve of America’s Independence Day.
“When I found out what this special presentation was all about, I was so proud and deeply honored that she would ask me to do this. I have been involved in many veterans’ presentations, but I have never witnessed one as outstanding as this.”
Montgomery is an Airborne Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning, Ga., and currently serving his fifth deployment in Afghanistan. He has been awarded the Pathfinder’s Medal as well as the prestigious Bronze Star.
Logan’s wife, 2nd Lt. Nelaja Montgomery, served a tour in Iraq with a medical unit and returned with the Army band for another tour, Sanchez said.
“Logan is one of our many heroes fighting the war against terrorism for out country,” Sanchez said. “He has only met Pastor Tom twice, but on both occasions, Pastor Tom had the men come up to lay hands on Logan and pray for his safety.”
That set the stage for Sanchez’s presentation of a flag that was flown over Logan’s base in Afghanistan on Easter Sunday.
“Logan never forgot the experience,” Sanchez said. “He was so moved, he wanted to do something special for Pastor Tom, thinking the pastor might like the flag, which was flown in Tom’s honor over his home base in Afghanistan.”
The special framed plaque accompany the flag states: “This flag was flown in the face of the enemy, illuminated in the dark and bears witness to the removal of terrorist forces threatening the United States of America. It was flown with pride over the compound of our nation’s elite Task Force, in remembrance of all innocents who have lost their lives in terrorist attacks.”
“I can relate to what Logan is saying,” Sanchez said. “I have known Tom for some time now, and I know he has touched many lives, not only in this congregation, but also as a leader in our communities and his dedication to the veterans’ organizations. I know for a fact that many consider Tom Iannucci their hero for all he has done for them. It is just overwhelming.”
As the plaque and neatly folded American flag passed hands, Iannucci smartly returned the salute from Sanchez, and without hesitation, turned his attention to the flag in his hand and saluted it, sending his gratitude and appreciation across the countless miles of ocean to Montgomery and just a few miles down the road to Smith in the emergency room at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.