SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta Township Council honored a veteran who recently returned after being injured on a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Mayor Josh Hertzberg said “about a year ago” the Sparta VFW Commander Peter Litchfield told him Mike Krapels’ story. Hertzberg said Krapels did not get support from his town when he returned, he did not have any visitor when he was recovering from his injuries.
“We talked about finding a way to support soldiers when they leave and come back and if they are injured,” Hertzberg said.
Hertzberg said he formed a small committee that had been kept quiet. The committee consisted of Hertzberg, Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn, Chief Neil Spidaletto, Pete Litchfield, Vince Householder, John Finkeldie and Tina Rowan.
It was so quite that Krapels and other council members did not even know about it.
Hertzberg read a resolution that explained Krapels was a member of the Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He had enlisted into the Army on his birthday October 7, 2008.
Krapels had been injured by machine gun fire shortly after arriving in the mountains of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Both legs were severely damaged according to Hertzberg. His injuries required “more than 20 surgeries and 10 months in a wheelchair.
The proclamation said Krapels, “motivated by his fellow servicemen,” strived to return to service. After being fitted with prosthetic legs at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas, Krapels was able to return to the Army.
In November of 2011 Krapels rejoined the same battalion and in June 2012 he was again deployed to eastern Afghanistan.
The proclamation ended with a resolution dedicating the driveway linking Main Street to the VFW as Sgt. Krapels Way. Krapels, joined by committee members in the well of the council chambers, was given a copy of the street sign that had been erected on the corner of the road across the street from the municipal building.
After the resolution was read, the meeting was adjourned for a “field trip across the street” Hertzberg announced. Krapels, with family members looking on, unwrapped the new street sign.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Krapels said. “It’s amazing. I’ve always felt rooted to the community but now with this- what can I say.”