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Gianforte honors 2 Butte veterans

Two veterans honored in Butte

Rep. Greg Gianforte was in Butte Friday conducting a commendation ceremony to honor two military veterans who continued to serve the Butte community.

Montana has the second highest concentration per capita of veterans in the country. The two men honored Friday served in different eras, but both brought with them their Butte roots to serve with distinction.

"We're here for a very specific reason of honoring two people,” Gianforte said.

Butte veterans Mike Lawson and Phillip Lyons were honored at the Marine Corps League meeting room in Butte Friday.

Lyons passed away on New Year’s Day. His daughter, Debra Lyons, received an official commendation from Congress and a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol on Veterans Day in his honor.

"There isn't an organization he didn't belong to or love,” Lyons said. “But what he did love was the love for his country and all the veterans.”

Lyons said her father answered the call to Pearl Harbor and later joined the Navy Reserve. He also served with Butte's American Legion post for 70 years.

"He was a little guy with a big heart that always had a smile on his face and would help anyone who needed it,” Lyons said.

She said her father logged over 15,000 hours volunteering for veterans and their families.

Next up was Mike Lawson. Lawson is a Marine Corps veteran who has been awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Now he’s chairman of Butte's Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program.

"We had such a bad experience coming back from Vietnam, so when you see these type of things, it's encouraging and a lifting of our spirits,” Lawson said.

That's why Gianforte said he started the Montana Congressional Veteran Commendation program last year. He said he put out a statewide call to find unique veterans who devoted countless service hours to Montana.

"I wanted to shine a bright light on a number of these people. It’s a way to just say thank you from a grateful nation and our communities," Gianforte said.

Gianforte will be heading to Bozeman Monday to honor six more veterans at the American Legion Post 14 building at 1 p.m.

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