Sutton grandson awarded Bronze Star by Marines

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Lt. Cmdr. Garnar Sutton, right, receives his Bronze Star for service in Iraq from Captain Kuzmick. Sutton, serving on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, participated in two tours in Iraq’s Al Anbar province; first, as the information operations officer with 2D Marine Division, then as the future operations planner for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah. (Photo by MC2 Shannon Warner. Courtesy U.S.S. John C Stennis Strike Group News )

By ALEX McRAE alex@newnan.com Lt. Commander Garnar Sutton, grandson of Mrs. Elizabeth Sutton of Newnan and the late Rev. R.W. Sutton, has been awarded the Bronze Star medal by the U.S. Marine Corps for his service in Iraq. Sutton participated in two tours in Iraq's Al Anbar province. He served as the information operations officer with 2D Marine Division, and as the future operations planner for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah.
"I am proud to have received the Bronze Star. It's a very emotional award for me, because it carries a lot of memories," said Sutton. "It is something I will hold dear because of friends and people I lost. There are people who received lesser awards but paid a much bigger price than I did." According to Sutton's award citation, the integration of RIVRON ONE led to the successful deployment of a Naval Riverine unit in support of Marine operations for the first time in more than three decades. "The Riverine Squadron got the Navy involved by patrolling the Ditha Dam and the Euphrates River," said Sutton. "We could repel terrorists in that area just by a show of force." Sutton was born in New Jersey and raised in Atlanta. Shortly after graduating from Atlanta's Therrell High School in 1982, Sutton joined the U.S. Navy and served as an enlisted man for 12 years. In 1994, Sutton was one of just five out of 1,575 candidates selected for advancement to the Navy officer's corps by President Bill Clinton. Sutton received his commission in 1995. Sutton's grandfather, the late Rev. R. W. Sutton, served for years as pastor of the Powell Chapel and Jones Chapel United Methodist Churches here in Coweta County. Just after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Rev. Sutton was among those who offered a prayer at a community prayer service at First Baptist Church in Newnan. Rev. Sutton passed away in 2003. Lt. Cmdr. Sutton fondly remembers visits to his grandparents' home. "They both taught us to just be respectful to all people regardless of who they may be," he says. "I spent most of my childhood summers in Newnan walking the back unpaved roads. One thing we were always reminded of was to take care of each other and always come back with the same people you left the house with. "Walking to the store, which was right down the street from my grandparents' house, was a big deal. I also remember watching my grandmother wash clothes off the back porch using an old fashioned washing machine, after which, she would hang them out to dry on the clothes line. Eating fresh blackberry pie made from the berries we would pick was always a treat." Elizabeth Sutton says her grandson loved to help Rev. Sutton with his garden and when he was old enough, drove his grandfather on errands around town. "He was always a happy, fun-loving kid," Mrs. Sutton says. "He called his grandfather Paw Paw and they loved to be together. He always loved to hear his granddaddy preach, too." Mrs. Sutton had some natural concerns when her grandson joined the military, but has been proud of his accomplishments. "You always worry a little when they join the military," she says. "But he has had a great career and when he was promoted to an officer we were all so proud. It's been wonderful." During his Navy career, Lt. Cmdr. Sutton has served aboard the U.S.S. Sierra, U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, U.S.S. Independence, U.S.S. Kitty Hawk and U.S.S. Enterprise. He is currently stationed aboard the U.S.S. Stennis. Sutton, now calls Orlando home. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Garnar, 8, and one-year-old Joshua. Michelle Sutton has come to Newnan several times to visit her husband's grandparents. She says they have always made her feel at home. "The Suttons were beautiful people," she says. "Rev. Sutton is gone now, but he and his wife were down-home, welcome-to-the family kind of folks who would do anything for you. We do all we can to visit Newnan at least once each year." Reflecting on the Bronze Star award, Lt. Cmdr. Sutton said, "I was called to do a job for my country, with the goal of making it back home having done everything asked of me. The real heroes are the ones who did not make it back, the ones who willingly and without hesitation gave their life for our freedom. I am honored to have known them and the memories of them will never fade. If you think the cost is high now for what we do, just wait until you get the bill for doing nothing. There is a price for freedom and the cost is very high."

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