South Point proud of son, other soldiers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 2004

Even among heroes, a few local soldiers found a way to stand out for their courage.

Five soldiers with the Ohio Army National Guard's 216th Engineer Battalion Co. B, out of Portsmouth and with a detachment in Ironton,

were awarded Army Commendation Medals for their heroic actions.

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The 216th was deployed to Iraq in February and is currently stationed near Tikrit. Sgt. 1st Class John Wisener, Spc. Mark Wiley, Sgt. Herman Morgan, Sgt. Danny Barger and Spc. John Prenger were recently honored for their actions battling a housing bunker fire.

A blaze broke out in the barracks in late July. Several of the men used a fire extinguisher to suppress the flames while other soldier removed the ammunition from the barracks, according to information provided by the U.S. Army.

Kathy and Mark Wiley of South Point said the news of their 21-year-old son Mark's heroic efforts was no surprise.

"That is just 'Marko.' He will put himself in front of a bullet for you if you are his friend. That is just the way he is," Kathy said. "Anything he does, he goes above and beyond the call of duty."

The Wileys could not be any more proud.

"Proud actually is not the word to use. I don't know what word is," Kathy said of their only child. "I am totally ecstatic with the child. He's my hero."

The younger Mark, a 2001 South Point High School graduate known as "Marko" to his friends, dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player but eventually followed in the footsteps of much of his family and decided that his field of battle would be a different one.

Of course, the Wileys love to talk about their son "that lights up their world" when he calls home, but Kathy and Mark are quick to point out that he is just one of many that have made sacrifices to defend America.

"We are very proud of him but we are also proud of all of the 216th and all of our military," Kathy said. "They are awesome group of men and women."