Secretary Norton visits Bermanis at Walter Reed
January 29, 2004 - the Secretary personally expressed her gratitude and thanks to Hilario Bermanis II for his service and sacrifice to the United States as an Army Specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division. Bermanis, a Micronesian, lost his left arm and both legs in June 2003 when he and a fellow paratrooper guarding a cache of weapons in Baghdad were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades. Bermanis's squad mate was killed instantly. The Secretary visited Hilario Bermanis II at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and just days earlier she visited Bermanis's home island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. The Secretary told Bermanis, who earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, that he is an example of courage to all Americans and to all the other Micronesian citizens who serve in the US Armed Forces. Bermanis, who has been visited by the President and First Lady, received his U.S. citizenship on September 17, 2003 in the presence of two members of President Bush's Cabinet: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi, both Vietnam veterans.