ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois -- It was standing room only in the Rock Island Arsenal Golf Clubhouse ballroom, Oct. 29, for a ceremony awarding the Purple Heart to a Soldier wounded in battle.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Wertz, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, was the acting first sergeant of B Co., 3-15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Division, serving in eastern Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated near him in May 2013.
"My company and its attachments were the main effort for our brigade in Asada Bad," Wertz said in a speech to the audience. "It was a very dangerous mission that had already taken ten Soldiers off the battlefield before I got wounded."
Wertz was on foot when approximately 100 pounds of home-made explosives detonated within 20 meters of him. He said he took the "full brunt of the over-pressure" and later, after eventually being medically evacuated to Landstuhl Air Base, Germany, found out his heart was dislodged from its cavity. He suffered a pulmonary contusion, a cardiac contusion, and may have had a sudden impact cardiac arrest.
One year and five months later, Wertz is still in uniform serving his country.
"I never thought the actions I took on the battlefield should be recognized in front of a large crowd," he said. "I am truly humbled to be standing here today in order to receive this award."