Spc. Jason Lopez, assigned to the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade, was presented the Purple Heart Medal and the Air Medal with Valor, Oct. 10.The medals signify his outstanding actions while carrying out combat operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.Lopez returned home after sustaining mission-related injuries in Afghanistan. His recovery has been difficult, but he is making progress, and it has been with the help and support of both his family and leadership."They've definitely been outstanding leadership to me," Lopez said. "From checking in, calling me."Seeing that support made all the difference to Lopez in his condition as he transitioned home.
"Knowing that there are people in the rear [not deployed] that still have your back and care about you," Lopez said.Lopez, who comes from a family of veterans who have served for generations, including a member who has spent several tours in Iraq, says that the awards give him a sense of pride and accomplishment."An Air Medal, you definitely feel like you accomplished something and had a lasting impact on the mission," Lopez said.Lopez's sacrifice has been recognized by many, even those outside of the Army. The mayor of Lopez's hometown in Oxnard, California expressed gratitude while Lopez was on leave and intends to honor him in his own way in the future.Lopez's dedication to the mission has been an imperative effort to ensuring the CAB's success. His bravery and efforts are truly appreciated by the Iron Eagle Leadership."Lopez's resilience and courage are why he received the Air Medal with Valor, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Badge," said Lt. Col. Nathanal Patton, the Rear Detachment Brigade Commander. "While he is currently assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, he is, and will remain, an Iron Eagle Soldier."