By Spc. Kandi Huggins, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force Public AffairsNovember 26, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq -- Two "Golden Dragon" Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, were awarded the Purple Heart in a Thanksgiving Day ceremony at Contingency Operating Site (COS) Warrior Nov. 25.
Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, presented the Purple Hearts to Capt. Anthony Smith, commander of Company A, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Regt. of Braham, Minn., and Pfc. Matthew Gray, a radio and telephone operator, Company D, 1st Bn., 14th Inf. Reg., of Grossepoint, Mich.
Smith sustained his injuries on Nov. 3, due to an RKG-3 grenade that detonated on his vehicle as the convoy was moving through Hawijah in Kirkuk Province.
Gray was wounded when a rocket hit his Containerized Housing Unit (CHU) on COS Warrior Nov. 12.
"We had the Iraqi Police with us in the lead and rear vehicle in the convoy," said Smith, "and they were out immediately trying to help find who threw (the RKG-3 grenade); and they actually did find the thrower, the driver, and the guy that was trying to videotape the whole attack.
"I'm just glad everyone is alright and there were just a few concussions," said Smith of the attack on his convoy that wounded him. "It could've been a lot worse."
Gray said he was amazed to see how quickly his fellow Soldiers reacted to help him after the rocket exploded in his CHU.
He also stated that he was honored to receive the Purple Heart decoration given the fact that its origins date to the time that Gen. George Washington commanded the Continental Army. Washington created The Purple Heart initially as the Badge of Military Merit as a way to recognize the outstanding valor and merit of his Soldiers.
The Purple Heart is now awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services, has been wounded from an opposing enemy force.
"The two Soldiers receiving a Purple Heart today remind us that this remains a tough environment," said Austin. "We have to make sure we stay attentive and mindful of force protection.
"Both of these cases are somewhat a miracle, an inch in either direction and both of these Soldiers may not have been here today."