Tony M. Hall, a Fort Worth native employed by Red River Army Depot, Texarkana, Texas and assigned to 1st Battalion, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, Joint Base Balad, Iraq, was awarded a Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom in a ceremony held at JBB Feb. 18 for injuries sustained when the quarters in which he was sleeping came under an indirect fire (mortar) attack from insurgents on Camp Anaconda, Balad, Iraq on April 20, 2008.

Hall, a heavy mobile equipment operator, received the medal from Lt. Gen. Mitchell H. Stevenson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G-4), Headquarters, Department of the Army, when Stevenson toured the battalion's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected work area.

Hall has been assigned to 1st BN, 402nd AFSB since March 2008. He was born in Ft. Worth, Texas and enlisted in the US Army and served in Vietnam from 1973-74 with 1st Cavalry, 82nd Field Artillery at Ho Chi Minh City, and Ft. Hood with 1st CAV. He was awarded the Good Conduct medal and was honorably discharged in 1980 as a sergeant. Hall is on his 2nd tour in Iraq and is currently assigned to Taji National Maintenance Depot.

Hall was transported by general ambulance to the Air Force Theater Hospital at Camp Anaconda, Balad, Iraq where he underwent surgery following the mortar attack.

Recalling the events of that April 2008 morning, Hall said he did not realize he was injured at first, "everything was moving so fast."

Hall added that he discovered that he was injured after he entered a bunker and felt a stinging and burning sensation in his arm. He was hospitalized for three days and then went home to recuperate. When asked why he returned, Hall said simply, "I'm not a quitter."

The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom was established to acknowledge civilian employees of the Department of Defense who are killed or wounded in the line of duty. The medal symbolizes the extraordinary fidelity and essential service of the Department's civilian workforce who are an integral part of DoD and who contribute to the preservation of national security. The Defense of Freedom medal is the civilian equivalent to a Purple Heart for members of the armed forces.

The Defense of Freedom medal was announced by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Sept. 27, 2001 and was initially presented to 37 people who had been killed or wounded in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The medal itself consists of a golden circle framing a bald eagle holding a shield which exemplifies the principles of freedom and the defense of those freedoms upon which our nation is founded. The reverse of the medal is inscribed with "On Behalf of a Grateful Nation" with a space for the recipient's name to be inscribed. The laurel wreath represents honor and high achievement. The ribbon is the red, white and blue. The red stripes commemorate valor and sacrifice. The wide blue stripe represents strength. The white stripes symbolize liberty as represented in our national flag. The number of red stripes represents the four terrorist attacks using hijacked airplanes and the single blue stripe represents the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.