TAMPA, Fla. - Few events in a Soldier's life make as much of an impact or leave as lasting a memory as an incident resulting in a Purple Heart medal.
On Sept. 18, 2008 such an event happened to Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Robert Mintz of the 320th Military Police Company from St. Petersburg, Fla., while he was in the lead vehicle of a convoy in Tikrit, Iraq.
On Dec. 1, 2012, Mintz was awarded the Purple Heart at the Lovejoy Army Reserve Center here.
The narrative statement for the 200th Military Police Command warfighter describes an improvised explosive device that's detonation force was sufficient to lift the 30,000-plus pound Mine Resistant Ambush Protected or MRAP vehicle off the ground until it landed some 15-20 feet away from the blast site, while Mintz bounced around the inside.
After all personnel were accounted for and found to be alive, the Soldiers regrouped out of the kill zone with rest of the convoy, after which, Mintz led a dismounted patrol back to the area of the attack where they apprehended one of the perpetrators. Mintz was later diagnosed with a concussion and traumatic brain injury, which led the awarding of the Purple Heart.
"It was a rough day," Mintz said after the ceremony. "But we did our jobs, just as we were supposed to do."
For Mintz, it isn't about the medal, but about his troops and knowing they all made it home after the deployment.
"I didn't like what he had to do to get [the Purple Heart]," said his wife, Tracy. "But we're very proud of him."
Command Sgt. Maj. Kurtis Timmer, the senior enlisted Soldier in the 200th MPCOM said, Soldiers like Mintz are why he has continued his service for more than 33 years.
"Within our formations across this command, we continue to hear stories about warfighters, like Staff Sgt. Mintz, who truly are the Champions of the Army Reserve," he said. "Whether I visit our Soldiers abroad or our wounded warriors here in the States, I am reminded daily of why I serve and the sacrifices our Soldiers and their families make each day. We truly are a command filled with American heroes -- in uniform and within our communities across dozens of states."
Timmer said military spouses, like Tracy, are essential to the success of a unit's mobilization and the glue which bonds the spirit of the military police warfighter.
"Tracy was left behind as her husband deployed into harm's way, and I salute her and all our military police families," he said. "If it wasn't for the love and support of all our extended formations who do not wear the Army Combat Uniform, we wouldn't be the professionals we are today."
Along with the medal, Mintz was given a flag by an aide to U.S. Rep. Bill Young with an accompanying certificate stating that the flag had been flown over the Capitol.