By Holly MeyerJuly 7, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC (Army News Service, July 7, 2009) - As the fireworks exploded above the Washington Monument, Army Reserve Spc. David Hutchinson enjoyed the blooms of color from one of the best views in the district, the White House's South Lawn.
Hutchinson, a Silver Star recipient, was one of 22 servicemembers who joined President Obama on the White House balcony as he thanked the crowd of military families for their service and sacrifice.
"You can't really compare that Fourth of July to any other Fourth of July," Hutchinson said. "That was probably the best it will ever be."
Hutchinson and his fiancAfA were one of the 1,200 military families the Obamas invited to their home on Saturday to celebrate the nation's birthday.
Because of his heroism and sacrifice in Afghanistan, the 22-year-old Soldier was handpicked by the Army Reserve to stand beside the commander-in-chief.
"It's one thing to actually see the president at a speech or something like that," Hutchinson said. "It's a whole other thing to actually shake the man's hand. No matter who he is, he's the president. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
On the 65th anniversary of D-Day, Hutchinson experienced another unforgettable life moment when he became the 3rd Army Reserve Soldier in Afghanistan to receive the Silver Star.
"I can't really explain the feeling that I had. It's kind of that first-time jitters before you go out on a mission," Hutchinson said.
During a mission with the 420th Engineer Brigade in Afghanistan, Hutchinson saved the life of his first sergeant and protected the Soldiers in his convoy when 20 insurgents ambushed them in a mountain pass during May 2008. He returned fire against their machine gun and rocket-propelled grenades, killing five enemy Soldiers before being injured by shrapnel. Despite his injuries, Hutchinson tended to the shrapnel injuries of his first sergeant and refused to be carried out before him.
The speakers at his awards ceremony drew parallels between his bravery and the bravery of World War II Soldiers, but Hutchinson said he did not consider his actions to be as significant as those of the thousands who stormed the beaches of Normady, France on June 6, 1944.
"I don't think I'm in that ball park of Soldier, but they kept relating back to that day and it definitely set the tone for the day on the Silver Star ceremony," Hutchinson said.