News: CTF 4-2 soldiers receive Purple Heart Medal from under secretary of the US Army
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan – On the morning of May 11, Sgt. Joseph Moore was riding in a Stryker driven by Pfc. Steven Bergen. Following an improvised explosive device attack, his next few memories included looking up and seeing UH-60 Black Hawk rotors. The next thing he knew, Moore was completely naked in front of strangers in a place he didn’t recognize.
Twenty days later, Moore, Bergen and Staff Sgt. Jose Canales, an engineer, received Purple Heart Medals from the United States Under Secretary of the Army, Dr. Joseph Westphal, during a ceremony May 31 on Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, Afghanistan.
Moore and Bergen, both infantrymen with Company C “Chaos”, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, Combined Task Force 4-2, were headed out on a typical mounted patrol when they rolled over the IED that was buried beneath the dirt road they were traveling on.
“It’s like getting in a fight when you’re younger and you get knocked out; you wake up later,” said Moore. “That’s pretty much all it felt like to me.”
“Maybe it was just sensory overload … I just remember the dust settling and the truck was still rolling,” said Bergen, a Windsor, Conn., native. “So I stopped the truck.”
After checking himself for possible wounds, Bergen crawled out of the “hellhole,” which is the tiny corridor that connects the driver’s hull to the rest of the vehicle, and helped carry an unconscious Moore to the medical evacuation helicopter.
“I know the feeling of shock waves and I totally do not remember the bang, the explosion, the shock wave, or anything,” Bergen said.
After arriving at the hospital on Kandahar Airfield (KAF), Afghanistan, the two men were diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBI is caused by “a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.”
Canales experienced a similar scenario as the two infantrymen.
Canales was riding on a convoy moving his unit from FOB Masum Ghar to KAF as a final movement before heading back to their home station of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., when his vehicle struck an IED.
“I didn’t hear anything,” said Canales, a Selden, N.Y., native. “I just remember the vehicle being up and everything went down. I was upside down.”
After checking himself for possible injuries and escaping his seatbelt, Canales said he helped his driver out of his seat and the two exited the vehicle. Canales was seen by the unit’s medic and sent off on a medical evacuation helicopter.
Berger and Canales had the same initial reaction - make sure they were intact.
For Canales and Bergen, following standard operating procedures such as wearing protective posture equipment (PPE) and strapping down loose equipment in the vehicle may have helped then from sustaining worse injuries, they said.
“I’m very lucky,” said Canales. “After seeing the truck and everything … I feel kind of blessed to be alive.”
Bergen said he and Moore used to joke about receiving purple hearts and it was strange that they actually received them one month before their deployment is scheduled to end.
“Guess you have multiple lives, multiple chances,” said Bergen. “Because if (more explosives) had gone off, I’d have been dead probably.”
This work, CTF 4-2 soldiers receive Purple Heart Medal from under secretary of the US Army, by SSG Kimberly Lessmeister, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.