PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- It took a little longer than expected, but two New York Army National Guard Soldiers received Bronze Star medals for their service in the Iraq War Friday.
Command Sgt. Maj. Arnold Stone, Jr. and Capt. Shawn Tabankin served with the Second Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment in Iraq in 2004, but due to paperwork mistakes never received the awards they had earned.
Lt. Col. Joseph Biehler, the 2-108th battalion commander, and Battalion Executive Officer Major Sean Flynn led the ceremony, held at Camp Smith's sleek new lecture hall.
Biehler said the two men led 30 soldiers and one of the big operations they took part in was operation Baton Rouge, a prolonged battle to retake the city of Samarra from Iraqi insurgents.
"They don't just give away the bronze star - you earn it for serving in a combat zone in combat operations - and for performance," he said.
Tabankin, a Bedford Hills native, and Stone, from Saranac, N.Y., both served in First Platoon, Company B of the Second Battalion, 108th Infantry in Iraq as platoon leader and platoon sergeant, respectively.
Both men took part in over 300 combat patrols, where they worked to disarm improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, before they could injure soldiers or civilians, Flynn said.
The award recommendations for both Tabankin and Stone were never processed before the two soldiers returned home, which led to a long administrative process to see their awards approved. The two men's plight received help from the offices of Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, since the process required four resubmissions due to administrative issues.
Hayworth and Assemblyman for the 89th District Robert Castelli were on hand Friday to present the two men their awards. Castelli, a Vietnam War veteran himself, presented the men with citations from the New York State Assembly in honor of their service.
"They are outstanding soldiers, and it's my tremendous honor to honor them," Castelli said.
Hayworth also thanked Stone and Tabankin for their service to their country.
"You led more than 300 missions and you disabled more than a dozen IEDs," Hayworth said. "You think of the hundreds of lives you touched, the hundreds of lives you have saved. It is humbling indeed to be in your presence and I cannot thank you enough but I do on behalf of everyone in our Hudson Valley."
Both men are preparing to deploy again with the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team later this winter.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.