BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan— On June 11, 2010, Col. Jack Briggs, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, commander, honored Airman 1st Class Giovanni Flores with the Order of the Purple Heart, in front of more than 75 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Airmen.
“This is a rare but distinguished occasion for all of us,” Briggs said. “To have an Airman with us who has earned a Purple Heart.”
Briggs gave a brief history of the award, which was created by General George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782. “The original Purple Heart was a purple cloth cut into the shape of a heart,” he said. “And he only gave out three.”
Flores, deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and a Dallas, Texas, native, said it was an honor to receive the award. “I was just doing my job,” he said.
Flores recognized the efforts of the 455th ESFS Airmen saying, “They are an awesome team and they do a great job.”
Even though they are working long hours in defense of the base, Airmen Flores said they are still keeping the perimeter safe and that is the important thing.
Flores received his Purple Heart for injuries received during a pre-dawn attack when he was hit with shrapnel from an indirect fire attack on his position.
Briggs repeated the message General Washington gave to his troops when he honored them, “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."
“That is a pretty powerful statement,” Briggs said.
“I was doing what I was supposed to do and I don’t expect any reward for anything I do. I just want to do my job and do it the best I can,” Flores said.
Briggs addressed the rest of the 455th ESFS ‘Defenders’ at the end of the ceremony saying, “We are here to honor the sacrifices of one of your Airmen, but each and every one of you make me extremely proud.
“You will stand where few people will, in the face of danger to protect us all and that makes me proud, very proud,” said Briggs. “As an American and as your commander.”