News: 21st CSH Soldier receives Purple Heart
Story by Maj. Joseph Odorizzi
FORT HOOD, Texas – Nearly four years after sustaining wounds during a mortar attack in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sgt. Richard A. Blackwell of the 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, received the Purple Heart in a ceremony at the unit’s motor pool June 2.
Brig. Gen. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., commanding general of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), presented the award to Blackwell in front of a formation of 21st CSH Soldiers at the 1st Medical Brigade motor pool.
“I called my wife and told her that I was getting one of those ‘purple’ clothed medals,” said Blackwell.
His wife was also on hand at the ceremony to witness the award presentation.
Blackwell, a medical maintenance technician, was on his third deployment to Iraq in June 2007 when he sustained his injuries. At the time, he was working as a biomedical maintenance technician with the 28th Combat Support Hospital out of Fort Bragg, N.C., based in Mosul.
On June 21, 2007, Blackwell was performing his duties on a routine rotation with his unit at the Iba Sina Hospital located in the “Green Zone” in Baghdad. At approximately 9 a.m., the alarm on the installation sounded, indicating incoming indirect fire rounds. Blackwell was running to seek shelter with other Soldiers when a 120 millimeter mortar detonated 25 meters behind him. In the ensuing explosion, he was sent through the air and thrown into a T-wall barrier.
Following the aftermath of the attack, Blackwell was treated for shrapnel wounds and mild traumatic brain injury. Shortly after treatment, he returned to duty and completed his tour; returning to Fort Bragg with his unit in August 2007.
“Knowing that he remained in Iraq and completed the mission is a testament to Sgt. Blackwell’s true character,” said Chief Warrant Officer-2 William Sexton, Blackwell’s supervisor. “He has always placed his Soldiers, his unit, and the Army first and is a true example of selfless service.”
Sexton has known and worked with Blackwell for over four years.
“Do not be afraid of how you will act when things happen. You will react the way you are trained and suppose to,” Blackwell told the assembled Soldiers at the ceremony. “If you get hurt just remember we have the best combat support hospital and medical personnel in the world. Last but not least take the time to take care of yourself and your battle buddies for that is your family while you are down range.”