Admiral Mullen awards 5 Purple Heart medals to Soldiers
July 17, 2009 - Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver1-12 In Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, flew in to Forward Operating Base Ramrod on July 17 to award five Purple Heart medals to Red Warrior Soldiers injured in a roadside bomb attack July 3.
Sergeant Robbie Petry, Corporal Jason Kotzur, Specialist Stephen Dickard and Privates Avelardo Ocampo, Michael Slayton and Dane Lentz from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment were conducting route clearance on a road in the Maywand District when their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck (MRAP) hit an improvised explosive device, flipping the MRAP on its side.
The Soldiers credit the MRAP, a 16-ton behemoth with a V-shaped hull, for saving their lives. The design of the MRAP helped deflect the blast of the roadside bomb, leaving the Soldiers with only minor injuries.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment salute Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as he lands at Forward Operating Base Ramrod July 17. Admiral Mullen presented five Purple Heart medals to Soldiers injured in a roadside bomb July 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver)
“Thank you all for your sacrifice,” said Mullen as he pinned the Purple Heart on the U.S. Army nametape of each Soldier. “I am grateful for your service during this time in history.”
The Purple Heart Medal is presented in recognition of wounds received as the result of enemy actions. The medal features a purple enameled heart within a bronze border with a profile of George Washington in Continental uniform. Above the shield is Washington's coat of arms.
Mullen also addressed the 1-12th Infantry Regiment and encouraged them to lead the fight – a fight which has changed drastically from the war in Iraq.
“You are part of the shift from Iraq to Afghanistan; you lead that effort,” Mullen said. “I urge you to pay attention to the strategic focus – it’s on the people. We are heavily focused on eliminating civilian casualties.”
Recently, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, said he would sharply restrict the use of airstrikes here, in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the counterinsurgency.
“Keeping the Afghan people safe is absolutely critical,” said Mullen. “Focus and take care of each other. You are the best military we’ve ever had or existed in the world.”
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, awards Sergeant Sergeant Robbie Petry a Purple Heart medal at Forward Operating Base Ramrod July 17. . (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment at Forward Operating Base Ramrod July 17. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver)