Master Sgt. Westley J Kilpatrick was presented a Purple Heart, February 4, during a ceremony held at the NCO leadership Center of Excellence, Fort Bliss, Texas. The medal was presented to him for injuries received during a missile attack while deployed in Iraq.
“We were at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq around January of 2020.” Kilpatrick said. “Iran fired several long range missiles at our base in retaliation for their general being killed in Bagdad a few days earlier. Many soldiers were injured and some had to be immediately evacuated stateside due to more severe injuries.”
In the aftermath of the attack fires raged and some 30 aircraft were destroyed. Additionally, 150 US service members were injured, but fortunately none were killed. Despite their own injuries Kilpatrick and dozens of other soldiers stayed behind in Iraq to continue their mission and hold the position. The event saw wide media coverage due to the unexpected nature of the attack and the large number of injured US soldiers.
Due to the large number of injures most of the soldiers who stayed behind in Iraq were not initially approved for awards, but the unit commander pushed for all the solders to be recognized. Kilpatrick said his company commander, Capt. Jeffery Hanson, and his tire less work were a driving force in getting him and the other Soldiers recognized for their injuries on that night, and actions following the attack.
“It recognizes the solders sacrifices they made in the line of duty, most of all for the soldiers that were not recognized at the time but should have been,“ Kilpatrick said regarding the award. “After everything they have been through it is good that they are being recognized even if it is after the fact.”
Kilpatrick is the last soldier in his unit to receive his purple heart as he wanted to ensure all the soldiers under him were recognized before he was.