Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — Six Soldiers assigned to the 402nd Engineer Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, were awarded the Purple Heart during a ceremony September 25.
Sgt. Alexander Deitrich, Sgt. Cory B. Dums, Sgt. Matthew Klein, Staff Sgt. Adam T. Parsley, Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas J. Winstanley and Sgt. James P. Yates received the medal for wounds sustained in action during a route clearance patrol mission in Afghanistan June 23.
The Soldiers of 1st and 2nd platoon were clearing routes of all explosive hazards in Regional Command East when one of the vehicles took a direct strike by a pressure plate improvised explosive device roughly 180 pounds in weight.
Winstanley and Klein were dismounted, recovering one of the vehicles when a secondary IED exploded about five meters away.
The Soldiers suffered concussions, tinnitus, hearing loss, and traumatic brain injuries.
“We sacrificed with these Purple Hearts,” said Capt. Nicholas S. Sinclair, 402nd Engineer Company commander. “However it was a successful mission bringing the Taliban subcommander out of the area of operation with three other detainees.”
Col. John F. Dorney, Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment director, said a few words about the history of the Purple Heart before pinning the award on the Soldiers.
“The Purple Heart was awarded first by George Washington in 1782 for the blood that Soldiers sacrificed for their fellow colonies as we were becoming Americans,” said Dorney. “It’s one thing to shed blood for your homeland, but it’s another big thing to shed blood for someone else’s homeland to get them a better way of life.”
The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded.
“The whole company deserves recognition because they’re all out there every day looking for this stuff to save other people’s lives,” said Winstanley. “It’s a very honorable mission.”