62nd Engineer Battalion Soldier Receives Purple Heart
Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office
Bright red guidons with pure white engineer castles provided color for the Soldiers as they stood in formation at the Kieschnick Fieldhouse Friday. There was an abundance of digital grey in the gym - courtesy of the new Army Combat Uniforms. Yet one lone figure stood out in the midst of the crowd, his Desert Combat Uniform contrasting sharply with the uniforms of his fellow engineers.
Sgt. Joshua J. Ward, a bridge crew member with the 74th Multi-Role Bridge Company of the 62nd Engineer Battalion, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, sat in a brown metal chair in front of the formation. On his left, a colorguard stood in his honor. On his right, his wife, Melissa J. Ward, sat quietly, lightly holding his hand and whispering occasionally as everyone waited for the ceremony to begin.
The battalion's dual opposed phalanx - four companies in a rectangular formation - stood erect as its commander, Lt. Col. John R. Boule, called it to attention and the ceremony began.
COSCOM's commanding general, Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, stepped up to the microphone after speaking briefly with Ward and his wife. He began his speech by praising Ward for living the Soldier's Creed and placing his own personal welfare at risk in the process.
"[Ward] left his home in the defense of freedom," the general declared before describing the events which led to Friday's ceremony.
"On 20 October, 2005, around four in the afternoon, Sgt. Ward was getting ready to do physical training while serving in the Anbar Province of western Iraq. As he prepared to conduct PT, the compound was hit by a mortar attack. Sgt. Ward received shrapnel wounds in both arms, his chest and his left leg," Terry explained.
The commanding general then continued to tell of the swift treatment Ward received and the care he was given to save his life. His unit's actions were met with gratitude by Ward himself.
"The unit was truly helpful," the wounded bridge crew member said. "Soldiers came to help me out when I was wounded."
Terry said these actions helped stabilize the sergeant's condition and he was eventually allowed to return to duty. However, he continued to have complications from his wounds and had to be removed from theater and eventually returned to Fort Hood.
For the sacrifices Ward made, for the blood he shed for his country, the commanding general was honored to present a Purple Heart. With the medal, the general added, came the thanks of a grateful nation to a Soldier who represents the best of the United States Army and the nation itself.
Sgt. Joshua J. Ward, bridge crewmember with the 74th Mutli-role Bridge Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, receives a Purple Heart Medal from 13th COSCOM commanding general, Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, for injuries suffered during Operation Iraqi Freedom as his wife, Melissa J. Ward, stands by. Ward received shrapnel wounds in both arms, his chest and his left leg, while serving in the Anbar Province of western Iraq. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist