November 25th, 2006 04:35 EST
Airmen receive Purple Hearts
CAMP BUCCA — Staff Sgt. Rory Sturm and Airman Kevin Perez Glazer were presented Purple Hearts in a ceremony here Nov. 14 for injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device exploded near their Humvee.
While receiving the medals is a memorable event, both members of the 586th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Area Security Operations team, said the night of the explosion is the one they’ll never forget.
On the evening of Oct. 16, Sturm was the truck commander and Perez Glazer was the driver on patrol near Safwan, Iraq. As their vehicle approached an overpass there was a loud bang and bright flash.
“I thought whoa, what was that,” said Perez Glazer, who is deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. “I knew some of the tires popped but I also knew I had to get us out of there.”
Perez Glazer drove a little farther then provided security for the disabled vehicle while Sturm performed buddy care on their gunner, Airman 1st Class Brandon Byers. Once one of the unit’s Combat Life Savers, Staff Sgt. Jason Kidd took over caring for Byers, Sturm manned the M2 .50 caliber and started scanning for an attack or the triggerman, but the area was clear.
“Our team worked flawlessly,” said Sturm, who is deployed from Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colo. “We just happened to be the ones hit, but we’re here today because the other vehicles in our team, Sergeant Kidd and an Army medic responded so quickly.”
Both Airmen agree the unknown private first class was “on point” and deserves recognition and credit for the role he played.
“I think (the Army medic) saved Airman Byers’ life,” Perez Glazer said. “He was just so calm and fast. I wish I knew his name so I could thank him.”
Once Byers, who was deployed from Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, was medivaced and the adrenaline stopped pumping through them, both Sturm and Perez Glazer realized they’d been injured as well.
“I was checked out and told to get my gear off,” Perez Glazer said. “They said I’d been hit with shrapnel in the back.”
To ensure there weren’t other injuries or any psychological damage inflicted on the airmen, they were relieved from any patrol duties for a few days, but both say they were eager to get back “outside the wire.”
At the medal ceremony, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Commander Col. Paul Curlett recognized their courage and sacrifice.
“They volunteered to step forward and defend their country in its hour of need,” Colonel Curlett said, “Now they will join the honored company of well over half a million Purple Heart recipients alive today, who all served and who all sacrificed in the name of something higher than themselves.”
“It is a profound honor for me to thank each of you, and your families, for your service, your sacrifice, your dedication, your courage and your commitment,” said Curlett.
(Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Jeff Clark 386th)