Warriors receive Bronze Star and Purple Hearts at WFSC
Story and photo by Maria Gallegos
Published May 21, 2012
(left to right) Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo, commanding general of U. S. Army Alaska and deputy commander of U.S. South Alaskan Command, Staff Sgt. Darius Johnson, Staff Sgt. Shaun Elizondo, Spc. Seth Pardue, Spc. Zachary Thissell, Pfc. Bryan Ward, and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Pumphrey of BAMC Troop Command participate in a Purple Heart ceremony at the WFSC May 10.
Five soldiers were honored for their service and sacrifice during a Bronze Star and Purple Hearts ceremony at the Warrior and Family Support Center May 10.
Col. Noel Cardenas, deputy commander for Administration of Brooke Army Medical Center opened the ceremony followed by Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo, commanding general of U. S. Army Alaska and deputy commander of U.S. Alaskan Command presented the medals and certificates.
Palumbo welcomed the Purple Heart recipients with words of praise for their courage, dedication and their sacrifices.
"These awards are not a benefit; it is an entitlement," he said.
Infantryman Staff Sgt. Darius Johnson received his Bronze Star for his exceptional and meritorious service during Operation Enduring Freedom. His outstanding dedication to duty during combat operations in Afghanistan contributed to the overwhelming success of the commandís mission, according to the medal citation.
Johnson was assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division when he and his team were ambushed and struck by an improvised explosive device (IED), July 17, 2011. He lost his left arm and suffered burns throughout his body. His first sergeant was killed in action during the ambush.
"It is an honor to get this award. Not everyone wants this (award), but I lived through it and I am honored," said Johnson.
The Bronze Star medal is a U.S. armed forces individual military decoration awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service.
Staff Sgt. Shaun Elizondo, Spc. Seth Pardue and Spc. Zachary Thissell were assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, serving as infantrymen in Afghanistan when their vehicle was struck by an IED while conducting a mounted patrol, resulting in their combat injuries April 3.
As the squad leader of the unit, Elizondo requested to present the Purple Heart medals to Pardue and Thissell.
"It feels good to receive this award and to be with my Soldiers," he said after the ceremony. "There are a lot of guys still out there (in Afghanistan), please keep them in your prayers and thoughts."
Pfc. Bryan Ward received both his promotion and his Purple Heart medal during the ceremony.
Serving as a cavalry scout, Ward was conducting a mounted patrol when his vehicle stuck an IED resulting in his combat injuries on Feb. 7. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration and the oldest military honor in the world in use.