News: Admiral Mullen awards five Purple Heart medals to Soldiers
Story by Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver
FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD, Afghanistan — The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, flew in to Forward Operating Base Ramrod on July 17 to award five Purple Heart medals to Red Warrior Soldiers injured in a roadside bomb attack July 3.
Sgt. Robbie Petry, Cpl. Jason Kotzur, Spc. Stephen Dickard and Pvts. Avelardo Ocampo, Michael Slayton and Dane Lentz from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment were conducting route clearance on a road in the Maywand District when their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck hit an improvised explosive device, flipping the MRAP on its side.
The Soldiers credit the MRAP, a 16-ton behemoth with a V-shaped hull, for saving their lives. The design of the MRAP helped deflect the blast of the roadside bomb, leaving the Soldiers with only minor injuries.
"Thank you all for your sacrifice," said Mullen as he pinned the Purple Heart on the U.S. Army nametape of each Soldier. "I am grateful for your service during this time in history."
The Purple Heart Medal is presented in recognition of wounds received as the result of enemy actions. The medal features a purple enameled heart within a bronze border with a profile of George Washington in Continental uniform. Above the shield is Washington's coat of arms.
Mullen also addressed the 1-12th Infantry Regiment and encouraged them to lead the fight — a fight which has changed drastically from the war in Iraq.
"You are part of the shift from Iraq to Afghanistan; you lead that effort," Mullen said. "I urge you to pay attention to the strategic focus — it's on the people. We are heavily focused on eliminating civilian casualties."
Recently, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, said he would sharply restrict the use of airstrikes here, in an effort to reduce the civilian deaths that he said were undermining the counterinsurgency.
"Keeping the Afghan people safe is absolutely critical," said Mullen. "Focus and take care of each other. You are the best military we've ever had or existed in the world."