Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kingston's Final Act: Purple Heart; Presentation to Army Sergeant Injured in Iraq 'One of the Greatest Honors You Can Give Me'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kingston's Final Act: Purple Heart; Presentation to Army Sergeant Injured in Iraq 'One of the Greatest Honors You Can Give Me'

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

ST. SIMONS ISLAND | In his last visit before leaving office at year's end, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., went out in a blaze of someone else's glory.

That appeared to be the way he likes it.

First, Kingston found himself in an unfamiliar place, a seat in the audience at the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce annual Grits and Issues breakfast at Epworth by the Sea. Kingston smiled as others answered questions about their legislative agendas, including the man who will replace him, Pooler Republican Buddy Carter, and David Perdue, the Sea Island Republican who beat Kingston in a primary runoff for the Republican spot on the ballot in the U.S. Senate race and then Democrat Michelle Nunn in the general election.

Kingston left bearing a gift, a photo of the marsh taken by the late artist Mildred Huie, and was thanked repeatedly for his service.

After the breakfast broke up, it was time for Kingston to thank someone else for his service, Army Staff Sgt. Jaime Perez. As he has done numerous times, Kingston pinned a medal on Perez, in this case a Purple Heart awarded to Perez for his injuries suffered in Iraq when his convoy was hit Feb. 23, 2007, by rocket propelled grenades.

Kingston thanked Perez for the honor of letting him pin the medal on him.

"After another 22 years, I'm out of work,'' Kingston told Perez. "To end my career doing this is one of the greatest honors you can give me."

Kingston spoke of attending memorial services at Fort Stewart, the headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Division, in which Perez served. Generally, there are two or three families who have lost loved ones, he said.

"If you really want to see the face of war, see the faces of survivors,'' he said.

BEST FRIEND LOST

As Kingston spoke, Perez spoke of his own loss, his best friend, Sgt. 1st Class Ramon A. …

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