Group creates first award recognizing fallen soldiers of non-combat situations

They served their country willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and died while active in the military. But as it stands, there is not any award or recognition for fallen soldiers who died while serving in non-combat situations.

A group in Port St. Lucie made up of former active duty military members is out to change the situation by creating their own award.

It is called the "Blue Star of Valor Award."

The sole intent is to make sure members of the military who died during active duty in non-combat situations are not forgotten.

"I kind of felt like that it wasn't that important. It was nice to here that it was," said Rhonda Quintana, whose son died as a result of a motorcycle accident in 2004.

In its second year running, hundreds gathered on Saturday afternoon in the Tradition neighborhood of Port St. Lucie to honor Lance Corporal Jeremy Santiago, Specialist Diego Valbuena and Private Christopher Smith.

"The families still have to bury them, they still have to grieve. Whether it was a combat related death. It only puts a different slant on it," said Daniel Depagnier, whose son died as a result of a car accident in 1993.

Organizers of the "Blue Start of Valor Award" said they believe they are the only group in the country honoring fallen soldiers of non-combat situations.

The award is not officially recognized and is considered more of a community recognition award.

Congressman Allen West attended the ceremony and said he would like to see the idea get more attention and spread throughout the nation.

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