Kirk pins Bronze Star on Tinley Park soldier
By Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org March 8, 2014 4:42PM
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (right) pins the Bronze Star on Sgt. 1st Class William Ringhofer on Saturday in Tinley Park. Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki is standing with them. | Donna Vickroy/Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2014 6:58AM
After three years of campaigning on behalf of a now-retired soldier, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., traveled to Tinley Park on Saturday to pin the Bronze Star on Sgt. 1st Class William Ringhofer.
Ringhofer, a Tinley police officer who served with the Illinois National Guard for 23 years until his retirement in 2012, was awarded the Commendation Medal by the Army for his work during Operation Enduring Freedom in Laghman province in Afghanistan.
But Kirk believed the father of five deserved the higher honor and petitioned the Army in 2011 to upgrade the award.
In a brief ceremony before Tinley Park officials and some of Ringhofer’s fellow officers, Kirk said, “Any time we have a reservist who gets an award of this kind — that shows they’re twice the citizen, as Winston Churchill said.”
After affixing the medal, Kirk, who served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve, said he recalled Laghman province as “dicey.”
“Lots of Taliban,” Ringhofer said.
“We don’t like those guys,” Kirk said.
Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki thanked Ringhofer for his service.
“The village of Tinley Park and the south suburbs are very proud of you,” Zabrocki said.
Ringhofer, who got the call earlier in the week that the medal was being awarded, said he was honored by the fuss.
“It makes me happy to know there’s concern for soldiers and that the senator supported me,” Ringhofer said.
In 2008, Ringhofer and his unit provided security for the Provincial Reconstruction Team. Ringhofer, who had 41 servicemembers under his supervision, said that while providing escort, the platoon frequently came under fire. Fortunately, all members returned safely to Illinois.
Ringhofer is a 17-year member of the Tinley Park Police Department. He and his wife, Holly, live in Tinley Park with their children.