FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Kirkuk, Iraq— "Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given his blood in defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen." These are the words that were once written on the orders received when a Soldier earned a Purple Heart; and for every Purple Heart, there is a story to accompany it.
Spc. Robert Williams, a Plano, Texas, native and a water purification specialist with 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, added his own story to the history of the Purple Heart, April 9. Williams' convoy was hit in downtown Kirkuk city, Iraq, by an RKG-3 hand-held anti-tank grenade, wounding him and other Soldiers in the vehicle.
"We stopped our vehicle and I started scanning," recalled Williams. "Then all I remember was a 'boom' that knocked me out for about eight seconds."
"After I came to, I pretty much knew what had happened," said Williams.
The event left Williams disoriented and peppered with shrapnel from the blast. Fortunately the training of the Soldiers in his convoy prepared them for just such an event.
His unit reacted exactly how they were supposed to, said Williams.
"My medic was on the ball, and he patched me up in record time," said Williams. "You couldn't ask for a better group."
Williams was then rushed back to Forward Operating Base Warrior's Emergency
Medical Station, where he was treated for shrapnel wounds in his arm.
The following day, inside of the EMEDs, Williams received a Purple Heart from Col. Ryan Gonsalves, the commander of the 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div., during which his battalion commander and fellow Soldiers were present.
"What you are doing is absolutely amazing," said Gonsalves to the gathered crowd. "Third Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery has done a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of time."
"This is a citation we don't like to give out, and no one likes to receive," explained
Gonsalves. "This could have turned out tragically. We appreciate all of your efforts
After the ceremony, Williams's coworkers gathered around to congratulate him on the medal and expressed their desire to see him back in action soon.
"I cannot wait to get him back in," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Brummer, Williams's platoon sergeant.
"He has been a great Soldier to have under me," said Brummer. "His family should be proud."
Back in the United States, Williams's wife, Melanie, has already received word of the injury.
"There is no nice way to say I got hit," said Williams. "I told her I got hit and I am in the aid station right now but everything is OK."
Although the event came as a shock, Williams is still looking forward to hitting the streets of Kirkuk again after a little bit more time for recuperation.
"I am looking forward to going back in [Kirkuk city] with them," said Williams.
The Purple Heart medal has a long history in the U.S. military and the medal bears the likeness of the first president of the United States, George Washington, who implemented the medal Aug. 7, 1782, calling it the Badge of Military Merit. The medal is awarded to service members who have been killed or wounded by an opposing force, and three service members from 2nd BCT have received the medal during this rotation in Iraq.