Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for December 28, 2009 - Spc. David Hutchinson

Specialist David Hutchinson

Current Unit: 420th Engineer Brigade
Current Position: Engineering Specialist
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Bryan, Texas
Hometown: Humble, Texas
Years of Service: 4

After being in Afghanistan for less than a month, Spc. David Hutchinson didn't know that May 21, 2008 would change his life forever. When his convoy came under attack, Hutchinson fended off a group of insurgents and even after sustaining injuries of his own, provided medical aid to another Soldier in the unit. Within that hour, the young Soldier proved himself to be a leader in the face of combat and a lifesaver to the other Soldiers on patrol with him that day.

Around 10 a.m., a convoy of four vehicles carrying 17 personnel from the 420th Engineer Brigade Personal Security Detail left Forward Operating Base Sharana. The unit had recently arrived in theater and was still getting acquainted with the area in eastern Afghanistan. However, less than an hour into the trip, more than two dozen Afghani insurgents launched an ambush on the convoy. The convoy was outnumbered and surrounded by the enemy, but began returning fire in an attempt to disable the insurgents.

“When we left for the mission, we weren’t expecting any incidents. It was our first mission and we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the terrain. However, we had spent months preparing for that kind of situation; it was what we had been trained for,” he said.

Hutchinson, who was serving as the gunner for the third vehicle, spotted a group of insurgents firing machine guns from the top of a hill crest. Identifying them as the most lethal threat to the convoy, the Soldier began firing directly at the insurgents and was able to destroy that group. Despite receiving heavy fire in the turret, Hutchinson continued to fire at the insurgents.

When a rocket propelled grenade hit the vehicle, Hutchinson’s right leg was wounded by shrapnel and he collapsed from the turret. In the body of the vehicle, he saw that 1st Sgt. David Gussbery was severely injured and had shrapnel wounds on his head and face. Despite his own injuries and the inability to feel either of his legs, Hutchinson administered first aid to the Noncommissioned Officer and controlled the bleeding while the convoy moved out of the area of attack.

Later that day, Hutchinson and Gussberry were evacuated from Afghanistan and their extensive recovery processes began. Hutchinson spent more than six months at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and has endured three surgeries on his right leg. Although his leg has healed since the incident, he remains unable to run, due to persistent nerve damage.

During a ceremony in June, Hutchinson was awarded the Silver Star Medal, becoming the fifth Reservist to receive the award for valor in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom.

The award citation reads: “Hutchinson’s actions were without a doubt, the primary disrupter preventing the [insurgents] from destroying the convoy. His actions contributed to the safety of 17 Soldiers and showed extraordinary courage, loyalty and selfless-service under fire beyond expectation.”

However, like most Soldiers, he does not consider himself a hero.

“I never expected to receive a Silver Star—I was just doing my job, so I didn’t expect to be rewarded for doing what I did,” Hutchinson said. “I like to think that I received the award on behalf of the whole security detail because it was a joint effort to accomplish the goal.”

Originally from Humble, Texas and a 2005 graduate of Brenham High School, Hutchinson now lives in Bryan, Texas, with his wife, Jennifer. In addition to his responsibilities with the Army Reserve, the Soldier is a retail sales associate for AT&T. When he enlisted in the Army, he was following the example of his maternal grandfather and several uncles who served in the Air Force, and three of his cousins are currently serving in the military.

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