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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

City honors contributions of local military men, women

December 05, 2011 2:26 AM


Marine Staff Sgt. Dan Stoy isn’t your average member of a local veterans’ service organization. At 34, he balances family life and an active-duty military career with his duties as sergeant-at-arms for the Jacksonville chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. But while Stoy might stand out among decades-older members at chapter meetings, the three-time Purple Heart recipient said he has found a camaraderie there that transcends generations — and that he’d like to share with other active-duty troops.

Dan Stoy, with his wife Deanna Stoy, was honored by the city of Jacksonville as its only active-duty veteran of the year.     John Althouse/The Daily News

“If you ever need somebody to talk to, they’re always there,” Stoy said. “If you’re having a hard time, they’ll sit down and listen to you.”

This year, Stoy recruited more than 30 new members for the organization, making him the sixth-highest recruiter in the nation. And this month, he was honored by the city of Jacksonville as its only active-duty veteran of the year.

The platoon sergeant for the remain-behind element of 8th Marine Regiment, Stoy has pursued civic involvement and volunteer work with the same abandon that earned him decorations on the battlefield: The unit has amassed nearly 800 hours of community service with his leadership.

MOPH chapter senior vice commander Verl Matthews said Stoy’s enthusiasm and work ethic led to his becoming the first active-duty member of the chapter to be named veteran of the year.

“When the tornadoes went through (Jacksonville) in April, he and his people were cleaning up the area for days,” Matthews said. “Every time I need help, he volunteers to sign up.”

Still, Stoy said he was taken by surprise to learn he would be recognized by the city as an outstanding veteran.

“It surprised me a lot, just for the fact that there are other members out there that do a lot that are retired,” he said. “It definitely threw me off-kilter, just because it was an honor.”

Stoy was recognized by mayor Sammy Phillips at a Nov. 22 ceremony at City Hall, along with 26 other retired veterans nominated by organizations from around the community. While he said he was pleased to be recognized, the award won’t change his outlook as a Marine and a veteran.

“We’re always told in the Marine Corps, once you pick up rank, to be the example to your troops,” Stoy said.

Right now, he is hoping that active-duty troops will follow his example and join a veterans’ organization that will support them, even while they remain in uniform.

“I couldn’t ask for better friends, better people that I look up to,” he said. “It amazes me how much they will help you.”

Matthews said enthusiastic recruiting from members like Stoy has made the Jacksonville the third-largest MOPH chapter in the nation, with members ranging in age from 20 to 92. He said he hopes to see more young veterans and active-duty troops inspired to join the chapter.

“They are the future of the Military Order of the Purple Heart,” he said.

Stoy expects to be medically retired from the Corps in the near future, and plans to move to California with his family, where he said he will become involved with other local veterans organizations.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, 352-753-5535
Email: PublicRelations@Purpleheart.org
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