Soldiers Receive Purple Hearts at Lee Ceremony
March 11, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (March 10, 2011) -- Two Fort Lee Soldiers joined the distinguished ranks of Purple Heart recipients Friday at a ceremony near the 49th Quartermaster Group headquarters along A Avenue.
Purple Heart awards were presented to Sgt. Rey Barrera and Spc. Cody M. Hahn, both members of the 64th Transportation Company, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 49th QM Group. The installation leaders who participated in the ceremony included Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee, Col. M.C. Stephen Cherry IV, 49th Group commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. James K. Sims, 49th Group CSM.
Barrera was awarded his Purple Heart for the injuries he suffered on Nov. 7, 2010, while serving as the lead gun truck commander during a combat logistics patrol in Iraq. His vehicle was struck by an explosively formed projectile - a type of armament that uses a metal plate to puncture armored targets. It was his third combat tour in six years.
In response to the award, Barrera said, "I'm just happy to be here and to be recognized in this manner. Unfortunately, this is not an award that many people want, but it's still an honor because of the thing it represents."
Hahn also received injuries during a combat patrol in Iraq. On Sept. 28, 2010, he was serving as a gunner for a logistics patrol when the vehicle he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device. Following the award ceremony Friday, Hahn said he was well aware of the significance of the award he was presented, but he found it surprising that "so many people came out to see little old me."
"I'm just proud to serve, and this award is a symbol of how I feel," he said. "I believe every American should serve in the armed forces. It has shown me a whole new world and what to be grateful for in this great country of ours. That's the real feeling of pride I have today."
Another honoree at the ceremony was Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Walker, who received the Legion of Merit for his 30 years of service. According to his award citation, he demonstrated "exceptionally meritorious conduct" while performing a myriad of leadership roles with increasing responsibility, including his final assignment as the operations sergeant major for the Soldier Support Center.
"I am truly honored to be among the Soldiers recognized at today's ceremony," Walker said. "I thank God for this. I did not know that this would be my path in life, yet I stand here knowing that there is nothing else for me. Once I became a Soldier, I also became a part of a family."
During remarks from the senior leaders in attendance, Hodge said, "It is always a pleasure to witness the recognition of outstanding Soldiers. They accomplish and sacrifice so much to our service and our nation. It is a profound honor for me to be here, and I thank each and every one of you and your families for your service, sacrifice, dedication, courage and your commitment."
The 49th QM Group commander also reflected on the significance of the event during his remarks. "Today we recognized one of our senior leaders, Sergeant Major Michael A. Walker, with a Legion of Merit as he closes a long chapter of service to our Army and nation," Cherry said. "We also recognized two of our recently redeployed, combat-wounded Soldiers in (the 64th Transportation Company), Sgt. Rey Barrera and Spc. Cody M. Hahn, and their personal sacrifices in combat. Your presence makes a very noteworthy ceremony so much more special for our Soldiers who are being recognized today."