News: SMA Chandler visits Ready First Soldiers, presents awards
Story by Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus
FORWARD OPERATING BASE AZIZULLAH, Afghanistan- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, had the rare opportunity to meet the 14th sergeant major of the Army, March 26. Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler, III, presented two Spartan Soldiers their Purple Heart Medals, as well as numerous Combat Action Badges, Combat Infantry Badges and coins to other 1-36 IN Soldiers.
“It was a great honor,” said Pfc. Christian Hogue, Charlie Company, 1-36 IN, and a native of Greensboro, N.C. “I wasn’t expecting the sergeant major of the Army come and pin on my Purple Heart.”
Hogue, along with his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Daniel Johnson, a native of Canton, Miss., was injured during an improvised explosive device attack, Feb. 9.
The IED, which hit the mine-roller and blew up behind the truck, rattled everyone inside the truck, said Johnson.
“It was a great honor that he came out to pin the Purple Hearts on myself and my soldier,” said Johnson.
Both soldiers have returned to duty, and have even returned to the site where their vehicle was hit.
“I’ve already gone back on missions many times since the incident,” said Hogue. “The first couple missions I was sweating quite a bit, but I’ve just kind of gotten over it.”
Aside from honoring the recipients, Chandler held a question and answer session for soldiers. One of the first questions brought up regarded recent budget cuts.
“From an Army perspective, we’re going to fully fund what it is that you’re doing here,” said Chandler. “What I need you to focus on is your mission here.”
Chandler also answered questions regarding Tuition Assistance, policy changes on tattoos, uniform changes, entitlements and benefits.
“Thank you so much for what you do,” concluded Chandler. “Your service and your sacrifice really mean a lot to us and the American people. I want you to do well, continue to do well and get home safely.”