The Purple Heart is something given to United States military members wounded or killed while serving. While seemingly a straightforward process, sometimes our country’s heroes aren’t awarded what they rightfully deserve. Recognizing a recent error on this front, the Army will award soldiers injured in an Iraq air base bombing their due Purple Hearts.
This announcement comes off the heels of a CBS News investigation last month. In their report, CBS discovered soldiers injured in an Iraq airbase attack of January 2020 hadn’t received Purple Hearts, despite qualifying for them. In response to the report, a spokesperson said the Army’s Human Resources command, approved 39 purple heart submissions. Additionally, the final 11 received approval on December 20.
The attack in question happened to be the largest ballistic missile strike against American forces in history, Yahoo! News reports. The attack came a few days after the U.S. killed a notable Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani. “It rocked everything,” Purple Heart recipient Daine Kvasager said, recounting the attack. According to him, a shockwave from one of the missiles knocked him over. “The whole earth shook.” Miraculously, no American troops died, but many were injured.
The mixup came about because of a number of factors. One consideration was the soldiers feeling pressure to downplay their injuries. This was to help prevent tension with Iran from escalating. Further, the commander there, Colonel Gregory Fix, wrote he was “directed not to inquire about the remaining awards.” The “remaining awards” being Purple Hearts for the injured soldiers.
Luckily, the CBS report prompted immediate action and the veterans received their deserved awards. Mike Pridgeon, another award recipient, said “It’s not something you ever want to earn. But it’s something that my son can see as to why I am the way I am, why I changed.”
Purple Heart Marine Recipient Helps Veterans by Teaching Motorcycle Classes
A common theme among those who served is helping their peers or those who will serve in the future. For example, a Purple Heart Marine is helping his fellow veterans by teaching motorcycle classes.
U.S. Marine Dan Lopez became a Marine at 19, according to CBS8. Serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military awarded him a Purple Heart after an injury in Iraq in 2004. Feeling lost even when he got home, a local nonprofit helped him find his way and he built his own business. This involves teaching motorcycle classes to active duty service members.
The work he does with motorcycles and fellow veterans helps him physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is my mission now,” he told the news outlet. I brought this back to life.” Though his last comment was referring to the bike he was working on, it could easily apply to himself.