News: Military policeman awarded Purple Heart Medal in Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – A Marine from Goose Lake, Ill., was awarded the Purple Heart Medal in a ceremony here, Jan. 29.
Lance Cpl. Douglas Coonen, 21, a military policeman with Bravo Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 2, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was awarded the medal for injuries suffered during a combat logistics patrol near Sangin district in Helmand province in August 2010.
Coonen was providing security in the gun turret when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He suffered a grade-three concussion as a result of the blast.
After receiving the medal, Coonen spoke about becoming a part of the Purple Heart “brotherhood.”
“I feel honored getting it,” said Coonen of the oldest medal awarded to service members wounded or killed in combat. “There are other people in my platoon who have gotten it, and I feel like – I guess they consider it a brotherhood. It fills me with a sense of pride being a part of that, being able to get hurt while serving my country and still charge on. I still do what I need to do to get the job done.”
After receiving immediate medical care for his concussion, he received outpatient treatment at the Concussion Restoration Care Center here, a multi-disciplinary facility of Navy doctors and corpsmen who specialize in the treatment of concussions, the number-one battle injury.
After a few weeks of treatment, Coonen was back to full duty and ready to hop back in the turret.
In addition to providing security for resupply missions in Helmand province, Coonen conducts weapons maintenance on the M240B and .50 caliber machine guns, and the MK-19 grenade launcher. His favorite part of the job is getting “hands-on” with the weapons, he said.
“I guess you could say I get my hands dirty,” said Coonen. “It’s really fun just being able to handle the weapons.”
In addition to typical resupply missions, Coonen also provides security during escort missions in which a convoy of Afghan truck drivers delivers fuel to units in Helmand province.
“I like to mingle with the local nationals; a lot of them are really good people,” said Coonen.
Nearing the end of his deployment, Coonen said he is proud to have served alongside the Marines of CLB-2 for the past six months.
“I’m with a group of really good guys, so that keeps me going,” he said.
Coonen is expected to redeploy with CLB-2 to Camp Lejeune, N.C., in February.