News: Purple Heart ceremony honors three Hawaii Soldiers
Story by Spc. Jessica Luhrs-Stabile
KIRKUK, Iraq -- Three “Golden Dragon” soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, received the military’s oldest award still given to service members, The Purple Heart, during a ceremony on Contingency Operating Site Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, Oct. 7.
The awardees include Captain Brain P. Canny, a native of Springfield, Ill.; Spc. Robert C. Markwell, a native of Sandy Hock, Ky. and Spc. Nicholas McGehee, a native of Sanford, N.C. These soldiers were honored during the ceremony, in front of their fellow Soldiers and leadership by Task Force Marne commanding general, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo.
According to Maj. Gen. Cucolo, the Purple Heart’s origins trace back to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. It was known as the Badge of Military Merit, given to the men who were wounded or killed in combat. It eventually became the Purple Heart, but its significance remained the same. The award features Washington’s silhouette and coat of arms in recognition of its history.
After explaining the history of the Purple Heart to the Soldiers Maj. Gen. Cucolo, pinned each of the awardees.
Following the ceremony each of the soldiers recognized expressed what an honor it is to receive the Purple Heart.
“It’s an honor to receive the award and be able to walk away from the ceremony,” said Spc. McGehee, who was injured when an improvised explosive device hit his convoy. “I just hope anyone who receives this award is able to do the same.”
The Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, Capt. Canny, said he is also honored to receive this award and that he thinks it sends an important message to Soldiers and their families.
“As combat operations in Iraq come to an end it is important for people to realize there are still times when soldiers can be engaged in combat,” he said. “Although this isn’t our primary mission, every soldier must be ready to engage the enemy if the situation presents itself.”