Wounded Soldiers Receive Purple Hearts
(From left) Lt. Col. Richard Rhyne, Sgt. John Smith, Sgt. Norman Smith, Cpl. John Hyland, Cpl. Oscar Liberato, Spc. Jedidiah Bryan, Spc. Carlos Cortez, Spc. Jourdan Smith, Spc. Harrison Wooldridge, Pfc. Walter Bailey and Pfc. Craig Chambliss were honored by more than 75 Soldiers, medical staff, civilians and Family members at a Purple Heart ceremony May 12 at Brooke Army Medical Center.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- A Purple Heart ceremony held May 12 was a show of appreciation for all men and women wearing the uniform with a special acknowledgment to the Families for their love, support and sacrifice.

"It's a privilege to capture a snapshot of the Soldiers and Families on this stage," said guest presenter Maj. Gen. Keith Huber, U.S. Army South commanding general, who commended the Families for their sacrifice in support of their Soldiers.

"Sacrifice is your definition that you (Soldiers) live everyday in uniforms to perform our duty," he said. "It's the sacrifice of a father or mother to assume the roles of both parents."

Huber defined a hero as one who risks and sacrifices his life. Sacrifice he said, is the forfeiture of something of great value for greater value.

He said Families are the heroes.

Cpl. Oscar Liberato, a tanker assigned to F Troop, 2nd/3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, echoed Huber's remarks. He thanked his Family for their moral support, and also asked that everyone remember those who were still serving in Iraq.

Liberato was injured March 10, when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. He sustained burns to his face and other combat injuries.

In addition to the Purple Heart, he received the Combat Action Badge, which recognizes Soldiers who personally engage the enemy or are engaged by the enemy during a combat operation.

Spc. Jourdan Smith also received an Army Commendation Medal for Valor, presented to Soldiers for sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service, along with his Purple Heart.

Smith, assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, was injured May 26, 2007, while on a route-clearing mission.

He said in East Baghdad, "a Stryker in my platoon was directed to move forward one block when suddenly an IED exploded. My squad immediately filed out of the courtyard approximately one block behind the Stryker."

At the scene, the infantryman noticed the hatch of the vehicle had been blown open and in flames.

"We then secured the intersection. My squad leader Staff Sgt. Santos and I approached the Stryker to extract our injured comrades, when all at once we received small arms fire from three different locations," he said.

It wasn't until Smith's third trip to the vehicle that he was shot in the leg and collapsed.

"I crawled to cover until one of my squad members grabbed me and pulled me out," said Smith, who sustained a gunshot wound to his right leg. "I was then medevaced out."

The remaining nine Purple Heart recipients are:

Lt. Col. Richard Rhyne, assigned to 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Bde. Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div., was injured April 12. While conducting an air assault mission with Joint Iraqi Police and coalition forces in Tikrit, Rhyne was wounded by an IED with injuries to his right shoulder and other combat injuries.

Sgt. John Smith, an infantryman assigned A Co., 2nd Bn., 30th Inf. Regiment, 4th Bde. Combat Team, 10th Mountain Div., was injured Jan. 12. The Texas native was on a mission when his vehicle was struck by an IED resulting in his combat injuries.

Sgt. Norman Smith, a tank gunner and Fort Worth native assigned to G Troop, 2/3 Armored Cavalry Regiment, was injured March 27. While attempting to render aid to Soldiers who were involved in two separate explosions by an IED, Smith's vehicle was also struck by an IED resulting in his combat injuries.

Cpl. John Hyland, a calvary scout assigned to B Troop, 6-9 Armored Recon, 3-1 Bde., 25th Inf. Div., was injured Sept. 10. While on a rescue mission in Mugdadillah, Iraq, Hyland was on a lead vehicle when it was struck by IED, resulting in his combat injuries.

Spc. Jedidiah Bryan, serving as a motor support operator assigned to the 418th Transportation Co., 55th Sustainment Bde., was injured March 12. During a routine convoy, Bryan's vehicle was struck by an IED and an improvised rocket launcher resulting in vision problems and other combat injuries.

Spc. Carlos Cortez, serving as an infantryman assigned to A Co., 2nd Bn., 30th Inf., 4th Bde. Combat Team was injured Jan. 12. While on a convoy mission, Cortez's vehicle was struck by an IED resulting in fractured tendons in his left hand and other combat injuries.

Spc. Harrison Wooldridge, of E Co., 1st Bn., 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Bde., 101st Airborne Div., was injured Feb. 5 when he was struck by an explosively formed projectile. Wooldridge sustained injury to both legs.

Pfc. Walter Bailey, serving as a forward observer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 4th Bn., 10th Inf., was injured March 30. During a recovery mission, Bailey's vehicle was struck by an EFP, resulting in his combat injuries.

Pfc. Craig Chambliss, a motor transport operator assigned to the 418th Trans. Co., 55th Sustainment Bde., was injured Feb. 10. While on convoy, Chambliss' vehicle was hit by an anti-tank mine resulting in his combat injuries.

(Jen Rodriguez works for Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs.)

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