ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) — Eighteen years in the U.S. Army earned Lt. Col. Mark Weber a chest full of medals and military commendations, from airborne wings to foreign engagement ribbons.
His dress uniform is impressive.
And in a packed National Guard auditorium in Rosemount Thursday night, he received a medal for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service.
“We always talk about the fight on the battlefield, but there’s also the fight on the home front,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
For Weber, his fight is now with stage IV gastro-intestinal cancer. So to honor his extraordinary military service, from his service at the Pentagon to his duty in Iraq, Weber was awarded the military’s Legion of Merit medal.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, honored Weber by personally presenting him the medal.
Weber served under then Dempsey in Iraq when Weber was an Army major. It was Dempsey who appointed Weber as the military assistant to the Iraqi Chief of Defense.
In honoring his fellow soldier, Dempsey said, “The greatest value of a life is to spend it for something that lives after it. That in the end, you become what you are through the causes to which you attach yourself.”
The general choked back emotions as he went on to say, “it can be a far higher ideal in life to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. I’ll always remember those lessons I learned from Mark Weber – that’s what Mark Weber taught me.”
Dempsey told the crowd of several hundred that he gave Weber duties above his rank because “he got things done.”
After Dempsey’s remarks, Weber rose to address his well-wishers. Speaking Kurdish, Weber thanked Dempsey for his friendship and many kind words. But he saved his highest praise for his wife, Kristin, who sacrificed so that he could serve.
“True strength is about getting things done despite tears and external obstacles,” he said. “And you, Kristin, epitomize the definition of the word strength.”
From family and fellow soldiers to the nation’s highest brass, they came to honor Weber, a leader who shows others how to live in the face of death.
“My job in the Army is to be a leader, to provide motivation, purpose and direction. And by God that’s what I’m going to keep doing,” Weber proclaimed.
To learn more about Weber’s journey with cancer, follow his personal Caringbridge page.