Thursday, March 20, 2008

Purple Heart

"Our Gunner's down and he's bleeding from the head!" The shout out over the radio made every heart drop. One of the soldiers in the turret (or hole in the roof) of the last vehicle in the convoy received a blast from a hand grenade someone threw.

I spoke with him today after he was seen by the medics. He stood there holding the scratched glasses that saved his eye sight. He had a Band-Aid over his right temple and was smiling. I couldn't help but think of the comment a good-hearted NCO said of him earlier this morning when he called up the report to higher headquarters. Although he didn't know who the soldier was at the time, he said nonchalantly, "Yeah, one of our guys took some shrapnel to the face, but it's okay, I know the guy and he wasn't that good looking to begin with."

"So," I said to the solider, smiling a little myself while thinking of the comment I had heard earlier, "did you shoot the guy who tried to kill you?" I knew he hadn't, but I wanted to ask anyway.

"No sir," he replied. "I had blood trickling down into my eyes and I couldn't see," he said, still smiling and happy to be alive.

"Well," I said with a big smile, "at least you get a Purple Heart," and I smacked him on the shoulder and winked.

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