By Pfc. Justin Naylor, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div.April 21, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq- "Let it be known that he
who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given his blood in defense of his
homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen." These are the words
that were once written on the orders received when a Soldier earned a Purple Heart;
and for every Purple Heart, there is a story to accompany it.
Spc. Robert Williams, a water purification specialist with 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field
Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, added his own
story to the history of the Purple Heart April 9. Williams' convoy was hit in downtown
Kirkuk city, Iraq, by an RKG-3, a hand-held anti-tank grenade, wounding him and other
Soldiers in the vehicle.
"We stopped our vehicle and I started scanning," recalled Williams. "Then all I
remember was a 'boom' that knocked me out for about eight seconds."
"After I came to, I pretty much knew what had happened," said Williams.
The event left Williams disoriented and peppered with shrapnel from the blast;
fortunately the training of the Soldiers in his convoy prepared them for just such an
His unit reacted exactly how they were supposed to, said Williams.
"My medic was on the ball, and he patched me up in record time," said Williams.
"You couldn't ask for a better group."
Williams was then rushed back to Forward Operating Base Warrior's Emergency
Medical Station, where he was treated for shrapnel wounds in his arm.
The following day, inside of the EMEDs, Williams received a Purple Heart from
Col. Ryan Gonsalves, the commander of the 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., during which his
battalion commander and fellow Soldiers were present.
"What you are doing is absolutely amazing," said Gonsalves to the gathered
crowd. "3rd Bn., 82nd FA has done a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of
"This is a citation we don't like to give out, and no one likes to receive," explained
Gonsalves. "This could have turned out tragically. We appreciate all of your efforts
After the ceremony, Williams's coworkers gathered around to congratulate him
on the medal and expressed their desire to see him back in action soon.
"I cannot wait to get him back in," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Brummer,
Williams's platoon sergeant.
"He has been a great Soldier to have under me," said Brummer. "His family
should be proud."
Back in the United States, Williams's wife, Melanie, has already received word of
"There is no nice way to say I got hit," said Williams. "I told her I got hit and I am
in the aid station right now but everything is OK."
Although the event came as a shock, Williams is still looking forward to hitting the
streets of Kirkuk again after a little bit more time for recuperation.
"I am looking forward to going back in [Kirkuk city] with them," said Williams.
The Purple Heart medal has a long history in the U.S. military and the medal
bears the likeness of the first president of the United States, George Washington, who
implemented the medal Aug. 7, 1782, calling it the Badge of Military Merit. The medal is
awarded to service members who have been killed or wounded by an opposing force,
and three service members from 2nd BCT have received the medal during this rotation