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Monday, January 14th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
St. Marys native earns Bronze Star
  ST. MARYS - One local soldier's hard work and dedication to his country has led to a high honor.
St. Marys native Joe Vires received the Bronze Star Medal on Dec. 6 in Afghanistan while finishing his third tour of duty.
The Bronze Star is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious service. The highest medals awarded are the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star.
During his most recent tour, which began in January 2012, Vires served on a 12-man team that trained Afghani soldiers to conduct combat missions and patrols.
"We went out with them to make sure they could do it themselves; we trained them to be able to govern themselves," he said.
Vires said he received the award just for doing his job.
"I think it was for my year's worth of work, a culmination of everything I did through the tour," he said.
Vires graduated from Memorial High School in 1989 and enlisted a month later on July 4. During his more than 23 years of service, he served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. He originally enlisted in the Marine Corps before transferring to the Army.
"I always wanted to join the service when I was younger," he said. "That's all I wanted to do, so I guess I did it."
Vires is on temporary leave in St. Marys with his wife, Michelle, and their three children, Mitchell, Allison and Michael. He will return to duty in Columbus and expects to serve one or two more tours.
"I just re-enlisted for six more years, so I guess I have a couple left," he said.
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