Eight soldiers in a Joint Base Lewis-McChord battalion charged with hunting for deadly roadside bombs in Afghanistan received Purple Hearts on a Christmas Day ceremony at a Marine base in Helmand Province.
“Pfc. Joseph Jackson, 571st Sapper Company, and a native of Erwin, N.C., was in the middle of clearing a road and recovering a downed vehicle when he and his team struck a roadside bomb.
‘I got slapped in the face with a .50-cal that sheared off of the truck. It took me out.; Jackson said receiving a Purple Heart meant a lot to him and his family.
‘My daddy’s got one,’” he told Chief Petty Officer Leslie Shively.
Spc. Sean Hutchison from Bonney Lake also received a Purple Heart on Christmas.
“It’s like the Army’s giving something back,” he said.
The soldier in 571st Sapper Company was in a convoy of fuel trucks when his vehicle set off an 80-pound bomb.
“I got charred up a bit,” he said.
The battalion’s mission is to clear roads of improvised explosives with vehicles specially designed to protect soldiers from blasts.
“The men are dedicated,” said Capt. Richard Peacock, commander of the 95th Route Clearance Company. “They try to take care of the routes, take care of each other and keep themselves safe at the same time.”