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Levy to replace medal vet gave soldier's family

The brother of a Medford Green Beret killed in Afghanistan said his family was comforted when a Northport veteran gave them his own Purple Heart medal to bury with the soldier after the Pentagon ruled against awarding one.

"My mother was really agitated by the technicality of the matter," said Stephen Bishop, of Middle Island. "This was a kind act."

Monday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy plans to offer the veteran, Bruce Brenner, a replacement medal, and is urging the Army to reconsider its decision not to give one to Staff Sgt. Keith Bishop.

Bishop died Oct. 26 when the helicopter in which he was riding crashed during a drug interdiction mission in western Afghanistan.

Brenner, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1469, in Huntington, donated the medal to Bishop's family in early November, after learning of their disappointment as they made funeral plans.

Brenner earned the Purple Heart when he was hit by shrapnel near the Cambodian border in 1970.

"I just thought about the family, the mother," Brenner said. "It was a pleasure for me to do it. It was a gift from one soldier to another."

Bishop's family put Brenner's medal in Bishop's coffin when he was buried at Calverton National Cemetery on Nov. 9.

The Army did not give Bishop a Purple Heart because his wounds were not inflicted by enemy action, according to Levy's office. An Army official could not be reached late Friday.

Stephen Bishop said Brenner's generosity was a solace.

"This was a comfort to my family," Bishop said. "This means more to us coming from Bruce than it would coming from the Army."

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