BAGHDAD - Specialist Angela Marino does not consider herself a hero.

As a motor transport operator assigned to Company F, Task Force 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division - Center, the Dothan, Ala., native has spent countless hours of the past ten months driving along the streets of Baghdad, hauling much-needed rations of food and fuel to fellow Soldiers residing on joint security stations and serving as a gunner to provide security for combat logistics patrols.

The Soldier, however, is proud of the wound she received when an explosively formed projectile struck the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle she was gunning in, leaving Spc. Marino with a facial laceration, Aug. 18.

On Oct. 25, Spc. Marino was awarded a Purple Heart for the injury she sustained in action. Staff Sergeant Anthony Erlenbough, of Company B, TF 3/69 Armor, and Sgts. Marvin Luke and Jeremy Weaver, both of F Co., were also awarded Purple Hearts at a battalion ceremony, which was attended by Col. Roger Cloutier, commander of 1st AAB, and Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson on Camp Taji.

The Purple Heart awarded to Spc. Marino marked the thirteenth such award given to TF 3/69 Armor Soldiers throughout the deployment.

"Frankly, I'm proud and humbled by the professionalism and the dedication of the individual Soldiers and leaders who have done what they've trained to do for the past ten months," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Denius, 3/69 Armor commander, at the ceremony. "Soldiers who have made contact have responded quickly and decisively (and) our medics have saved limbs and lives."

"But perhaps more importantly, when I look at today's four recipients, I see four Soldiers who are still able to do their job ... (and) will be able to continue their service and lead perfectly normal lives due to the actions of others," Lt. Col. Denius continued.

For Spc. Marino, the actions of others has included the guidance leaders have provided while out in sector, as well as what her battle buddies have done to support her as she has healed physically and mentally.

Specialist Marino said she first experienced that support from Sgt. Alec Glanville, a noncommissioned officer in F Co., when earlier in the year one of the vehicles in a convoy the two of them were traveling with was struck by an EFP. Then, on Aug. 18, Sgt. Marvin Luke and Spc. Gregory Phillips provided first aid and moral support to Spc. Marino when the EFP attack knocked her out of the turret into the MRAP.

The Soldier added that the team of Soldiers and leaders she works with has become a more cohesive unit in the aftermath of the attack.

"From that experience ... we came together and we realized how close we were," Spc. Marino said. "(We realized) this is what we've got; this is our Family (and) we've got to stick together."
Specialist Marino feels the deployment has been a great learning experience in life, and is proud of the Purple Heart award she will be taking home with her.

"It means a lot," Spc. Marino said of the award.