CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- -- Cpl. Jeremy K. Spray and Cpl. Kevin M. Samuelson, both motor transportation operators with the 9th Communications Battalion, were awarded the Purple Heart in the chapel here Wednesday for injuries received while operating in Al Anbar province.
Both were serving with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group Force Protection’s quick reaction force when their vehicle was attacked south of Camp Fallujah during a routine security patrol April 8.
The QRF was conducting a routine patrol when an improvised explosive device exploded beneath the vehicle, Spray said.
“After the truck blew up, I called out everyone’s name, and everyone answered up. I got out of the truck and jumped off the top and that’s when I realized my leg was hit,” said Spray, 23, a native of Covington, Tenn.
Spray received shrapnel in his legs, sprained and bruised his shoulder, and bruised his legs and chest.
“After the explosion I remember the team doing everything they had to, then I remember sitting in a ditch and temporarily losing sight,” said Samuelson, 27, a Georgetown, Texas, native.
Samuelson suffered a concussion, cut his knees, and bruised his legs.
Two and a half weeks later, Samuelson was back out with the QRF, followed closely by Spray, who recovered from the incident in a month and a half.
Three months later, the two Marines were awarded their Purple Hearts.
Col. George H. Bristol, commanding officer of I MHG, presented the Marines with their medals at the ceremony.
Bristol spoke about the Marines’ sacrifice and courage and described the 9th Communications Battalion as the unsung heroes of this deployment.
The Marines were happy to be around to receive the awards.
“I wasn’t out there hunting for (the Purple Heart), but I’m glad we were both here to receive it,” Samuelson said, thankful his injuries weren’t more serious.
“Nobody just wants to go out and get hurt. I didn’t really want it,” Spray said.
Though they didn’t seek out the Purple Heart, they were proud to receive it.
“It’s pretty honorable to receive it, and we deserved it after the accident,” Spray said.
The Purple Heart is a medal awarded to service members who are either wounded or killed by enemy action while serving with the United States military and was originated by Gen. George Washington. It is the oldest military decoration in the United States and was originally awarded to show the sacrifice Americans make for their country.