SIOUX CITY | Rhonda Menin wanted her son to have his medals. She sought to make a shadow box to match one she constructed for her father, the late Karl Krause, of Winnebago, Nebraska, a U.S. Army Master Sergeant who flew missions in World War II.
"I carried on the family military tradition," said Sgt. Adam Menin, a Sioux Cityan who served with the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2006 and was deployed to Kosovo and Iraq.
The hitch? Adam Menin, 37, didn't possess his medals, as all were lost or taken from him in a number of relocations since his honorable discharge 12 years ago. Menin had resided in Texas, then Pennsylvania, before moving to Sioux City last year, coming home after a 20-year hiatus. Sadly, the medals didn't come along.
That issue was resolved on Monday as U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, Iowa, presented Menin a multitude of citations, ranging from his Army Commendation Medal to the Army Achievement Medal with Oak Cluster to the Good Conduct Medal to the Sharpshooter Badge and Rifle Bar and more. King also gave Menin a U.S. flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol Building in his honor.
"This is one of the best things I get to do," King said.
"The dream of what I've achieved is still alive," Menin said. "This is a reminder of what I've earned and I get to keep forever."
King detailed what's happened in Kosovo and Iraq in the years since Menin's service. He started by praising the decision by President Clinton to use air power over boots on the ground. Clinton, said King, "turned out to be more right than I ever imagined."
And today, the people of Kosovo, the congressman reported, love America. "They're so utterly grateful as they all know that they wouldn't be a country today if it weren't for the service of people like Adam that went there to help secure their freedom," King said.
King pivoted to Iraq, noting how Adam Menin saw some of the worst of a long and bloody conflict, including his team's effort in 2004 to cut the body of Nicholas Berg from a bridge after militants beheaded the American freelance journalist. King said Menin's selfless work in a place of grave danger at least may have lifted some of the pain from the Berg family knowing that their son's body was recovered.
"They shot a rocket projected grenade at us as we were retrieving the body," Menin said. "I didn't get hurt that time."
Menin sustained injuries prior to that day. He would get hurt in fighting in the days and months that followed. He turned down the Purple Heart, though.
King detailed President Trump's statement, delivered during his State of the Union address, that nearly 100 percent of ISIS territory has now been retaken from forces affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. King said he heard Secretary of Defense James Mattis speak one week ago, and he talked of a strategy to pursue, encircle and annihilate, rather than contain.
"I had not heard that word annihilate in a long time," King said.
Menin, for his part, remained grateful to be home in one piece, surrounded by family and friends, a wealth of support that surprised him on this occasion inside the Federal Building in downtown Sioux City. The North High graduate said he's pleased to hear U.S. forces are succeeding.
"When we left were were winning," he said. "And it's good to hear we are winning again."
Menin has traded his Army tank for a horse as he now volunteers five days per week at 7 Wonders Saddles on the north side of Sioux City, feeding horses and greeting customers for Issac Deurloo, the owner. Menin has lost 50 pounds since he began helping a business whose principals have aided him mentally, physically, even spiritually.
"Adam had joined horse-therapy program for soldiers with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in Pennsylvania," Deurloo said. "And we're glad he came to us. He helps us on everyday matters at the farm. He's got tremendous skills."
Menin simply nodded and said he finds joy in riding each day he's there. The place has been a blessing.
It's a win/win situation, as the decorated sergeant who demonstrated grit and loyalty in battle finds his footing in a new pursuit, according to Deurloo, who concluded, "Adam's well on his way to becoming an excellent horseman."