News: ‘Saber’ Soldier receives Purple Heart Medal
Story by Spc. Sharla Lewis
FORT HOOD, Texas— A former 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldier was awarded the Purple Heart Medal last week for injuries he sustained in Diyala province during a combat logistical convoy in the fall of 2007.
On Sept. 4, 2007, former Sgt. Juan Castro, a track mechanic with D Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, and his convoy conducted a mission to provide logistical support to Soldiers stationed in a remote location of the Diyala province.
During their return to Forward Operating Base Normandy, where they were based, an improvised explosive device struck the third vehicle in the convoy, knocking Castro, the vehicle’s gunner, unconscious. He quickly recovered however and regained control of the gunner’s turret. Doctors later concluded that Castro sustained a severe concussion from the explosion.
Castro received the medal during a ceremony, July 26, at the squadron’s motor pool. Castro, along with his wife, stood in front of a squadron formation while Col. Douglas Crissman, the brigade’s commander, pinned the medal on his shirt as leaders and troopers congratulated Castro.
Castro, who has since been honorably discharged from the Army, said he was happy when he found out he was receiving the medal.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s a great recognition and it feels good that everyone’s out here supporting me.”
Gen. George Washington originally established the Purple Heart Medal in 1782 during the American Revolution to reward those who displayed bravery during combat and called it the Medal of Merit. In 1932, Gen. Douglas MacArthur finalized the decoration in time for the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, hence the bust of George Washington on the medal. It wasn’t until 1942, however that all services were eligible to be awarded the Purple Heart Medal and solely for wounds sustained in combat. Approximately 1.3 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been awarded the Purple Heart Medal since its establishment.
John Footman, the state commander for the Purple Heart Association said the medal is unique.
“Any Soldier can receive other merits but you have to be wounded to receive the Purple Heart,” he said. “We want our troops that are coming back to feel recognized.”