JOINT SECURITY STATION INDIA, Iraq-With their Operation New Dawn mission well on its way, Soldiers deployed to northern Iraq are continuously on the lookout to ensure the enemy doesn't try to bring harm to them, the Iraqi people or their mission.

Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, gathered near Mosul, Dec. 23, to recognize Soldiers injured by an improvised explosive device emplaced by violent extremists.

Currently on his third deployment Sgt. Melvin Cortes, a communications specialist assigned to Company B, 2-7 was in a patrol returning to his patrol base when they were targeted by violent extremists. He recalled a big explosion, resulting in head injuries that led to receiving a Purple Heart.

"I feel like I don't deserve this," said Cortes. "I've seen guys get seriously injured during previous deployments, but under the new traumatic brain injury standard, I am receiving recognition."

Other Soldiers on the convoy received combat infantry badges and combat action badges for their efforts during the attack. They stood proud as they received their badges, which indicate their experience in combat.

"I am blessed, and I thank God for the Army equipment we receive," said Cortes. I believe it is a direct reflection as to why we are still alive today. I understand what comes along with this award. I am very honored and will continue to fight the fight for those who couldn't after giving their lives."

This is the first Purple Heart Medal to be awarded to a 2-7 Cav. Trooper during Operation New Dawn.

"This is a testament of the bravery by the Soldiers awarded today. I also hope it's the last," said Lt. Col. Gerald Boston, the battalion commander. "Our equipment and our training are both better than they used to be, which makes it possible for our Soldiers to survive these types of incidents."

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