Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers with Purple Hearts Share Views on Purpose, Service and Leadership | Item


FORT LEONARD WOOD, Missouri – August 7 is Purple Heart Day, an occasion for Americans to remember and honor those injured or killed by opposing armed forces while in military service.

More than 70 current Fort Leonard Wood soldiers, along with countless other military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and retired community members, are Purple Heart recipients.

For those who live to tell their stories, each is unique, as is the way each chooses to use the experience in their personal and professional lives. Below, six soldiers here with Purple Hearts explain a bit of their views.

For the commander of the 31st Engineer Battalion, Lt. Col. John Grabowski, who was wounded in 2011 in Afghanistan, his sense of purpose is tied to caring for other soldiers in his unit.

“I’m very happy to help others succeed – a helping hand rather than a helping hand,” he said.

Receiving the Purple Heart didn’t change his thoughts about military service, Grabowski said.

“I have always accepted the possibility of serious injury or death in the performance of my duties,” he said. “I am honored to be associated with others who have been more seriously injured. If anything, I have greater respect for others with the Purple Heart.

In 2007, Lieutenant-Colonel Cristian Pinzon, commander of the battalion’s 43rd adjutant general, was wounded in Iraq. He said he felt grateful to wear the Purple Heart because others who received it made “the ultimate sacrifice.”

“Thinking about the incident and what happened that day gave me a better understanding of the other soldiers because I realized that life is too precious and could be lost at any time.” , did he declare. “I look at the human dimension of things with my fellow soldiers. Among many things, the business of the military is about the people.

Pinzon said his advice to fellow soldiers is to take care of each other.

“Take care of your fellow soldiers, civilians, yourself and the mission,” he said. “Believe and follow the values ​​of the military, because they will not guide you badly. “

As a 20-year-old Private First Class in 2009, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Ambriz, first sergeant of E Company, 701st Military Police Battalion, was injured in Afghanistan. He said when the medal was pinned to his chest he could “feel the weight of this battle and those we lost that day.”

“It was the most difficult day that no soldier could have trained for,” he said. “However, through the chaos of battle, I saw real leadership.”

Ambriz said he feels it is now his duty to pass his knowledge and experience on to the next generation of soldiers.

“It is my duty to teach them so that they can learn from our successes, from our failures and from our efforts,” he said.

On Mother’s Day in 2011, Sgt. 1st Class Jeramie Larsen, senior director of operations with the Advanced Law Enforcement Training Division, was injured in Afghanistan.

He said preparation is one of the keys to being a good soldier. His experience in combat, he said, made him a tough but fair leader, like the drill sergeants who influenced him early in his career.

“I understand what it takes to get there – not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally,” he said. “It’s not easy at all. You have to be prepared, and the only way to really get there is to have that leader who understands this and will push you to your limits, but be there to reach out to help you get back on your feet.

In 2006, Staff Sgt. 1st Class Michael Muir, senior human resources sergeant at the US Army Engineer School, was injured in Iraq.

Muir, who switched from infantryman to human resources after his injury to stay in the military, said he was often asked why he continued to serve.

“I think the reason I stayed in the military was to be able to teach men and women and mentor them that this thing that happened to me was just a speed bump,” a- he declared. “The incident only made me a leader and made me better.”

Staff Sgt. Range 11 cadre James Denkins was a 22-year-old specialist when he was injured in 2006 in Afghanistan.

Denkins said he had been shaped by a lot of things in his life and called the incident “just an experience that taught me a lot”.

“On the one hand, how fragile life is and how normal it is to stop and smell the roses every now and then,” he said. “Also, the power of the mind and how it can be your worst enemy or your best ally in difficult times.”

(Editor’s note: Dawn Arden, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office, contributed to this article. Her Purple Heart Day video series can be found on the site Fort Léonard Wood Facebook page.)


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