Spartan tanker awarded Purple Heart by CG
Sergeant Denver Kinard, a tanker with C Co., 1/30th Inf., 2nd HBCT, 3rd ID, is awarded the Purple Heart by Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commander, during an award ceremony held at Marne Garden, May 28. Sergeant Kinard was wounded by small arms fire while on dismounted patrol in Kirkuk, Iraq, May 2.

<b>FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>- He was on his third deployment to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division, and although he didn't think of himself as invincible, Sgt. Denver M. Kinard was surprised when a sniper bullet found an opening near the sleeve of his body armor while he was on a dismounted patrol in Kirkuk, Iraq, May 2. The 7.62mm round pierced the right side of his chest, passed through his right lung then broke a rib as it exited his back.

"It caught me off guard," admitted the six-year veteran and tanker with the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID. "This being my third deployment and being in Kirkuk, which is one of the safest places in Iraq right now, I just wasn't expecting to get shot."

Sergeant Kinard was awarded the Purple Heart by Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd Inf. Div. commander, May 28, while the Task Force Marne commander was home from Iraq on rest and relaxation.

"I told Mrs. Cucolo, 'I hate to take your husband away during his R & R.' And I hated messing with everybody's four-day weekend," Sgt. Kinard said, following the ceremony. "But being awarded the Purple Heart by the division commander was awesome."

Major General Cucolo saw no inconvenience to his being there, saying it was a privilege to recognize Sgt. Kinard on this particular day.

"Here we are, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, and I get the opportunity to present this medal to this Soldier," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said during his opening remarks, noting the significance of Memorial Day and those who have sacrificed so much for this country. "I cannot think of a more symbolic award to be given on this day than the Purple Heart when the majority of the 3rd ID is still in harm's way."

Captain Derrick Lucarelli, rear detachment commander for 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, and Sgt. Kinard's platoon leader during his first deployment to Iraq, explained the historical background of the Purple Heart and offered some personal observations about Sgt. Kinard. He told friends and Family Members gathered for the ceremony how the award was the first such award for the common, American Soldier, that it was designed by Gen. George Washington himself but that Congress ordered him to stop presenting the award.

Originally called the Badge of Merit, Capt. Lucarelli said the award was revived on the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth in 1931 by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The heart-shaped medal includes a profile of Washington and shield of the Washington coat of arms. The medal is awarded for "Being wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces." Captain Lucarelli praised Sgt. Kinard as an expert in tank maintenance and gunnery, and said he was proud to have worked with such a great Soldier and leader.

Sergeant Kinard said he was grateful to the Warrior Transition Battalion. He is currently attached to Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon. He has returned from convalescent leave but clearly has not fully recovered. His lung has not healed, causing him to feel winded easily, he said.

"You run out of juice pretty fast," Sgt. Kinard explained, sighing as he struggled somewhat to speak. "They said I can expect 100 percent recovering, but they didn't give me a time period when that would be."

A native of Bamberg, S.C., Sergeant Kinard is married. He and his wife, Jessica, have a 5-month-old son, Mason. He also has a stepson Korbin, 7, whom he says loves everything about the Army and can't wait to join. Sergeant Kinard would not be surprised if both his sons joined the Army, which he says he's not leaving.

"I love the Army," Sgt. Kinard said emphatically. "This is not going to deter me from making it a career."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16