302nd MEB Military Policeman awarded Purple Heart
November 21, 2011
Capt. Brien Durkee woke up at 3 a.m. and went to the Bahgram Airfield MP station to call his family back home in Massachusetts before starting the workday on September 11, 2010.
Durkee made an effort to call his wife Michelle and their two children William and Brielle every two weeks.
"I couldn't call everyday because I was out on missions a lot," said Durkee.
That morning he spoke with his family for a few minutes and talked to one of the agents on duty.
"I left out of the MP station and walked 100 feet down Disney Drive, and a 107 mm rocket came in and blew up 40 feet away from me," said Durkee. "All I heard was a swoosh sound and that was it, then lights out. When I figured out what was going on it was all over with."
Durkee said he woke up seeing stars. His head was pounding, his heart was racing, and he was confused and disoriented.
Medical authorities gave him the opportunity to leave Afghanistan for further treatment, but as the commander of the 342nd MP Detachment (Law and Order), Durkee elected to stay. He was responsible for 70 Soldiers, several of whom had been in major firefights and were wounded.
" I didn't see a replacement," Durkee said. "I'm proud of my guys, they defended several Forward Operating Bases when it wasn't their mission. They did it because we are MPs and that's how we trained."
An Airman brought a recovered fragment of the rocket to Durkee who showed it to the Soldiers who replaced the 342nd MP Det., as a reminder to be aware of their surroundings.
Durkee says that Soldiers shouldn't dwell on the possibility of being attacked, because there's no way of knowing when or where rockets will hit.
"Respect the sirens and alarms when they go off," Durkee said.
On November 6, 2011, Brig. Gen. David W. Puster, Commander of the 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, presented Durkee with the Purple Heart at Ft. Devens, Mass.
"I'm not a hero, I'm not anyone special," Durkee said." I'm a guy who walked down the street
and got blown up."
Durkee says he hopes to continue service with the 302nd MEB if he's cleared medically.