FORT STEWART, Ga. - Three weeks ago, Sgt. Charles Barr, Company B, 1 Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, was on a routine dismounted patrol with his platoon in Kirkuk, Iraq. They found no suspicious persons or activity and were headed back to their vehicles when the Americus, Ga., native was struck by small arms fire.

"We were heading back to the trucks when I saw the flash of the round as it came out my chest and hit my weapon," Sgt. Barr said, explaining how the bullet entered his back along the outside edge of his body armor, cracking his shoulder blade and breaking four ribs as it passed through his left lung only inches from his heart then burst from his chest, hitting his weapon and knocking it from his arms. "I knew I'd been hit in a pretty vital area, so I dropped to one knee then slid down an embankment in order to get some cover."

Sergeant Barr, who had a prior combat tour with the 2nd Stryker Force in Vilseck, Germany, said his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Leo Ricks, was the first one to get to him. Staff Sergeant Ricks and medic Pfc. Jamie Ramirez immediately cut away his equipment and began first aid by assessing his wounds. Because Sgt. Barr thought he'd been hit from the side, they first checked for a side entry wound. They then checked his back, where they found the small bullet hole so perfectly placed next to his body armor that they assumed he'd been hit by a sniper round. Their suspicions were confirmed when their vehicles then came under fire.

"It seemed like an eternity, but it was really only about four minutes before the trucks were there to pick me up," Sgt. Barr said. "After plugging the hole in my back and putting a pressure bandage on my chest, Staff Sgt. Ricks and Pfc. Ramirez helped me walk to the truck. (Private First Class) Ramirez laid across my chest all the way back to the base to keep the pressure on the bandage."

Sergeant Barr said he was taken by Blackhawk to a large medical facility in Balad, Iraq later that evening. He was soon transported to Landstuhl, Germany for two days then Andrews Air Force Base, Md., where he stayed two more days before returning home to Fort Stewart. Only one week after being wounded in Iraq, Sgt. Barr was awarded a Purple Heart medal by his battalion's rear detachment commander, Capt. Derrick Lucarelli, during an impromptu ceremony at Winn Army Community Hospital, Jan. 29.

Now at home in Americus on convalescent leave, Sgt. Barr is spending time with his parents, Wade and Susan Barr, who along with high school buddies Joey Newton and Caleb Day, were present for this Purple Heart ceremony. He said he is especially thankful to Pfc. Ramirez for saving his life and his Army career. Sergeant Barr plans to reenlist in October, but he hopes to be back in Iraq, serving with his unit at that time.

"My re-up window doesn't open until October," he explained. "They said my left lung is expected to be fully recovered in a few months, so I'm hoping to be back with my unit when I reenlist."

Although he plans to reenlist to stay with the 3rd Infantry Division this time, Sgt. Barr said he'd like to go to Sniper School and Ranger School and looks forward to seeing other places and serving in other units. Right now, he's just looking forward to rejoining his unit in Iraq.