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    Task Force Strike Soldiers awarded Purple Hearts

    Task Force Strike Soldiers awarded Purple Heart

    Photo By Master Sgt. Kap Kim | Combined Joint Task Force-10 and Regional Command-East Commander U.S. Army Maj. Gen....... read more read more

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN

    09.05.2014

    Story by Master Sgt. Kap Kim 

    Combined Joint Task Force 10

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – When a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a U.S. Army convoy Aug. 24, 2014, in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, it tested all their training and would be a clear reminder that their war was far from over.

    The blast sent a six-man crew into the air and continued to roll their 15-ton vehicle off the road after it landed. During the blast, Spc. Kelii Torres, a forward observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), was knocked out and woke up to the confusion that was caused by a concussion.

    “We were sitting back there and heard a loud explosion,” he recalled. “For a moment, I didn’t know who it hit until I felt our vehicle go up in the air … when it went up in the air; it was all in slow motion.”

    Then, smoke filled the compartment of their MAXPRO and when it started to roll, he was knocked unconscious. When he hit his head on radio equipment, he remembered, for a split second, that he was going to die, but then, he woke up to Spc. Dalton Trimble, their gunner who was thrown from the vehicle, yelling for his rifle.

    “My first thought was that I needed to get out and pull security,” he said. “Then, I started to check if everyone was all right.”

    Within seconds, their squad leaders, their platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Justin Richardson, and their unit medic Spc. Michael Wayman, who Torres affectionately called “Doc,” came running to their aid. Meanwhile, Dinh, their driver, was shaken up, but alert. He quickly went to his platoon leader’s aid and cut him out of his seat belt.

    Most of the six-man crew survived the incident with short-term injuries while the rest will undergo some further recovery time back in the U.S. The crew, by all accounts, performed their duties after the blast as they have been trained to do.

    “As a platoon sergeant, I’m extremely proud of how they all performed,” said Richardson. “All the guys performed above and beyond that day … they knew what to do and executed quickly which made the evacuation fast.”

    Combined Joint Task Force-10 Commander Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend and Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Lewis awarded Spc. Viet Dinh with both a Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart Medal at a ceremony at the Regional Command-East Headquarters at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2014, and Torres with the Purple Heart Medal and Combat Action Badge Sept. 5, 2014. Townsend would credit the crew with “doing the right thing” under enemy fire.

    This deployment was the first for both Dinh, of Sugarland, Texas, and Torres, of Lawton, Oklahoma.

    Although this wasn’t their first meeting with the enemy during their deployment, it was the first that left the Soldiers still wondering how this could have happened to them.

    Back at Forward Operating Base Fenty’s Charlie Medical clinic, Torres was still in shock and the events of the day were surreal, but in the quiet, and with his fellow crewmembers, he started to break down.

    “I started crying,” Torres admitted. “Trimble kept telling me that it was all right.”

    As time passed, Torres said he took hold of his emotions and by knowing everyone else in his team was all right as well, he rushed to the phone to call his wife back in Clarksville, Tennessee.

    “She was a wreck, but she was glad to know that I was OK,” he said.

    He also called his father, Ernest Torres, a retired sergeant first class, who lives in Lawton. His father, who had served over 20 years in the Army as a cannon crewmember and a combat veteran, gave him advice on dealing with the emotions he’d go through.

    Torres received the Combat Action Badge, different from others in their vehicle that day. The 19-year-old Army brat sought comradery in combat with his attached unit.

    “I’ve never felt more a part of a platoon than with those guys,” said the MacArthur High School grad.

    Although he’s happy to be going home to his wife, Keano, he’s upset to be leaving his combat brethren behind at FOB Fenty.

    “I just wanted that big welcome home ceremony with them … but I’ll be there to welcome them home,” he said.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.05.2014
    Date Posted: 09.05.2014 14:51
    Story ID: 141289
    Location: BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF 

    Web Views: 1,707
    Downloads: 1
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