Fort Lee unit honors Purple Heart recipients
September 15, 2011
By Amy Perry
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 15, 2011) -- The 49th Quartermaster Group recognized four of its previous Purple Heart recipients during a ceremony Friday at Clark Fitness Center.
The four Soldiers are Capt. Quentin Benjamin, 1st Lt. Michael White, Sgt. Matthew Browning and Spc. Michael Coleman.
Benjamin earned his medal after being injured by a vehicle-bourne improvised explosive device Nov. 12, 2010.
White earned his medal after being injured while in an MRAP damaged by a remotely-wired IED April 29.
Browning earned his medal after being injured while in a MRAP hit by an IED April 20.
Coleman earned his medal after being injured when an IED struck his MRAP Jan. 27. He is awaiting medical retirement.
Maj. Gen. James L. Hodge, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, presented the four Soldiers with their medals and said he was honored to be part of the ceremony.
"It is indeed a privilege for me to have the opportunity to honor four of our nation's very best," said Hodge. "The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration and was initially created and designed as a military badge of merit by our first commander-in-chief, Gen. George Washington.
"The Purple Heart is not something that Soldiers desire to receive, but it is earned by their actions and commitment to duty," continued Hodge.
The Soldiers' commitment to duty earned them the Purple Heart, said Hodge.
"All of us in uniform raised our right hands and took an oath that included words to support and defend and faithfully discharge our duties," said Hodge. "With that promise, our commitment to and our service in the greatest army in the world began. For our honorees today, that commitment to service took them to Afghanistan and Iraq and exacted a heavy price on themselves and their families, and today each bears the scars of war."
Hodge said he couldn't be more proud of the four Soldiers for their service.
"They all placed the mission first - they didn't accept defeat, they didn't quit - and they did not leave behind a fallen comrade," he said. "On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your service and your sacrifice."
Noting the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Col. Rodney D. Fogg, 49th Quartermaster Group commander, said the generation of Soldiers from the last decade has truly heeded the call to duty.
"Today, we pay tribute and celebrate the four Purple Heart recipients - members of this generation that represent us all so well," Fogg said. "Soldiers who volunteered to step forward and defend their country in an hour of need. I stand here truly with a heart swelling with pride just to be a part of this.
"I'm privileged to publicly thank each of you and your families for your selfless service, sacrifices, dedication, courage and commitment. It has been a profound honor for me to participate in this ceremony," he continued.
The support from the Fort lee community was evident during the ceremony, said Coleman.
"It was amazing - it was a great turnout," Coleman said. "The support for 49th Group is really needed - it made me feel honored."
Browning echoed Coleman's remarks.
"The ceremony was great - the standing ovation almost brought tears to my eyes," Browning said. "It's an honor. It's one of the awards that you don't want to earn, but you just get it."
White said he also realizes the importance of the award.
"It's a great honor to be given the award and have everyone out here supporting us. It showed how important it is for the military to recognize it," he said. "It's not something to be taken lightly, I understand the magnitude of this award. I'm really accepting this award on behalf of all those Soldiers who gave their lives for it."
Each of the Soldiers had families in attendance, and Benjamin said they were grateful for the support from the community.
"It's overwhelming - it means a lot to my family and me that everyone took the time and made an effort to come out for the ceremony," he said.
The 49th QM Group ceremony recognized the four most recent recipients of the Purple Heart award for their actions while deployed.