Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Gold star banners for duo

CLEVELAND - Gold Star banners have been handmade at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for the families of two Cleveland-area soldiers killed in Iraq.

Gold Star banners, a tradition that dates to World War II, are symbolic of a family that has lost a member in combat.

Banners were made for the families of Pfc. Brandon Sloan, 19, of Bedford Heights and 1st Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland.

Sloan was buried Saturday at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. Dowdy's funeral service was Tuesday at St. John Nepomucene Church in Cleveland.

Both served in the 507th Maintenance Company and were among those killed when their convoy was ambushed last month in Iraq. Five comrades were taken prisoner and released Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Mitchell Stevenson, Army chief of ordnance, was selected to hand-deliver a Gold Star to the Dowdy family.

A banner was presented to the Sloan family over the weekend, said Katie McDonald, one of the volunteers making the banners.

The Department of Defense has directed generals and admirals to attend the funerals of Iraq casualties.

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