CG awards Soldier's Purple Heart
Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, pins the Purple Heart on Sgt. 1st Class Noel Harrison during a short ceremony at Adams Hall Aug. 17. Harrison earned the award after being injured in combat Oct. 6, 2006, while on patrol in Iraq.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 25, 2011) -- Being awarded a Purple Heart is no small matter, so when Sgt. 1st Class Noel Harrison found out he was going to get his again, it was a surprise.

Harrison was injured in combat Oct. 6, 2006, while in Iraq as part of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division when a convoy he was traveling in was attacked by two grenades and an improvised explosive device, he told reporters after the ceremony.

Miraculously, none of the Soldiers involved died in the attack, though two others -- including a 19-year old on his first mission-- suffered what Harrison described as "significant injuries."

Though injured in the attack, Harrison said he was back to work within just a few days of the incident.

"I never thought of it as something I'd get an award for," he said. "I was just doing my job."

Harrison said for a while after the incident, every time a vehicle he was riding in would hit a bump or take a sharp curve, he thought he might be in danger again.

"I thought every little bump was going to be it," he said. "You're kind of on pins and needles after that. By all means, I shouldn't be here. It's by the grace of God that I am."

Harrison originally received his Purple Heart by mail, but Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, said that was a mistake that he aimed to rectify with a proper ceremony.

"This award … is the oldest award we still give in the Army," Crutchfield said. "It's the only award we give for Soldiers wounded in combat by the enemy. This is also the only award you are not recommended for. You earn the right to wear it through sacrifice."

Harrison's wife, Melanee, said she was thankful that her husband came home alive and that she would always support him in his military career.

"The scariest thing any wife can go through is getting that phone call or someone showing up at her door to tell her that her husband has been injured or killed," she said. "I was very glad to find out he was still alive and that he was OK. I'm very proud of him. He's always been a career-minded guy and wants to serve his country. Despite everything that's happened, we'd do it all over again."

Melanee and the couple's 16-month-old daughter, Piper, attended the ceremony as well as joining Harrison during the pinning of the Purple Heart.

Page last updated Thu August 25th, 2011 at 09:04