News: Three Purple Heart Medals
Story by Maj. Will Cox
ATLANTA – The Purple Heart Medal is linked to the Badge of Military Merit established by George Washington during the Revolutionary War when he pinned a purple, cloth-shaped heart on three men’s chests. The Georgia Army National Guard took a moment to honor the courage, commitment and sacrifice of three Guardsmen with today’s Purple Heart Medals in front of their family and fellow servicemen Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Atlanta.
Sgt. Jason Ulin, Spc. Jean Bermudez and Pfc. Sean Kitchens were awarded Purple Heart Medals for injuries sustained in combat during their deployment to Afghanistan with the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion in 2013.
“The Purple Heart Medal is an award that you do not want, but it finds good people in bad places,” said Lt. Col. David Casey, 1-214th FA Battalion commander. “These Guardsmen deserve our utmost respect."
These medals highlight the real danger Georgia Guardsmen face when deployed. Their everyday actions and those of their fellow servicemen exemplify courage as they accomplish their mission overseas, despite the dangers.
“When you are in that situation in the operations center and you get the first report that one of your own vehicles was hit by an IED [improvised explosive device] and then see on a live feed the vehicle smoking with the tires blown 500 meters from where the vehicle used to be, it is not a good feeling,” said Casey. “The fact that these men are standing here today is a testament of the great training we received here in the Georgia Army National Guard and the great training we received at Camp Shelby, and their ability as Guardsmen to survive in a very bad area of Western Afghanistan. It is good to see these guys standing here."
The U.S. Army spent an average of $6 billion a year on Tactical Wheeled Vehicles from fiscal year '03 to fiscal year '10 in order to better protect our U.S. soldiers from IED attacks.
“The equipment the Army and the country has invested into saved the lives of these Guardsmen, and I think that is a true testament to the leadership at all levels that have given servicemen the very best possible chance to succeed and survive,” said Casey.
When asked how he felt about service to the Georgia Army National Guard, Ulin of the 1-214th FA Battalion and recipient of the Purple Heart Medal said, “I am very proud of my service. I wouldn’t change a thing. You meet a lot of great people when you join the military and serve.”
The 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion conducted base defense operations in Western Afghanistan from May to December 2013 and returned to Georgia on Jan. 11, 2014. The 1-214th was responsible for command and control of all base defense activities in an area covering approximately 315 square kilometers. Operation of the base entry control points, flight line security and patrolling were major components of their operations.