Lindenwood University honors family of fallen Illinois National Guard Soldier Print
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Written by Staff Sgt. Patrick DeGeorge, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 18 September 2013 08:25

BELLEVILLE, IL (09/17/2013)(readMedia)-- The daughter of fallen Illinois Army National Guard Soldier Staff Sgt. Joshua Melton was recognized by the Lindenwood University football team Sept. 14 at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville. She was honored at half-time of the team's game against St. Francis.

Five-year old Aubrey Melton from Breese, Ill. and her family stood at midfield as the crowd cheered for her and honored her sacrifice to the nation. Her father was killed while serving with the Illinois Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan June 19, 2009. In addition to recognizing the Melton memory, the team contributed $1,000 to Aubrey's scholarship fund.

The team decided to honor Aubrey after retired Judge Annette Eckert, a faculty member of the university and wife of retired Illinois National Guard Adjutant General and current U.S. Rep., William Enyart, suggested they honor a local Gold Star family and mentioned the Melton family.

"We sought out to find a local cause," said Jeff Fisher, the head football coach. "Once she brought to me the actual situation, it was a no brainer."

The team contacted Staff Sgt. Joshua Lueker of Marion, Ill., the supply sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion 130th Infantry Regiment inMarion. Lueker had served as the casualty assistance officer for the Melton family and maintained contact with them following Melton's death.

The family expressed gratitude to the university and the team for honoring their loved one.

"I felt happiness that people are still remembering him as well as the other fallen Soldiers," said Andrea Verdeyen of Springfield, Ill., Melton's sister-in-law.

Melton's father, Mike Melton of Carlyle, Ill., echoed Verdeyen's words.

"I'm very proud," Mike said. "I'm glad there are still people out there who think about our boys who are over there and got lost or killed. There are people out there who still want to help."

Despite only being in kindergarten now, Aubrey said she plans to go to college to be a nurse like her mother.

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