Wounded warrior on people’s minds at Tupper Lake ceremony

TUPPER LAKE – Local soldier Spc. Dane DeGrace, who was injured earlier this month in Afghanistan, was in the thoughts of those who gathered Monday morning to celebrate Memorial Day.

The Rev. Rick Wilburn, the local Baptist minister, asked the people gathered at the war memorial on Park Street to keep DeGrace in their thoughts during his opening prayer.

Mark Moeller, the master of ceremonies, reminded people that several of DeGrace’s comrades died in the bomb explosions that injured him.

DeGrace, who graduated from Saranac Lake High School in 2006 and whose family now resides in Tupper Lake, is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering from severe injuries after an improvised explosive device blew up next to him two weeks ago. He underwent surgery Monday, the most recent in a string of operations since he was hurt, with medical personnel cleaning some of his wounds and trying to close them up.

DeGrace is an explosive ordnance disposal technician in the Army, a job that means he seeks out and tries to disarm bombs. He had been serving in Afghanistan since Nov. 1, 2012.

Village Mayor Paul Maroun, also Tupper Lake’s representative on the Franklin County Board of Legislators, gave the keynote speech of the ceremony.

In his introduction, Moeller mentioned that Maroun has served in a number of public service roles. He recently retired as a naval intelligence officer, has served as counsel to a string of state representatives and serves on a number of other area boards. Moeller called Maroun a local who epitomizes the ideal of service.

Maroun, who is running for re-election as both mayor and county legislator, talked about the importance of teaching youth about service – to the military, to government and to local communities.

“All young folks must volunteer wherever they can to help our community of Tupper Lake, or wherever they are from,” Maroun said. “And it doesn’t have to be a young, school-aged boy or girl. Volunteer fire departments need volunteers, rescue squads need volunteers, youth groups need volunteers, local governments need volunteers.”

After Maroun spoke, local community groups laid memorial wreaths at the base of the war monument, and the Tupper Lake Middle/High School band played a number of patriotic and military tunes.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or