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178th Security Forces Airman receives Purple Heart

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amy N. Adducchio
  • 178th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
     More than forty Airmen from the 178th Security Forces Squadron, Springfield, Ohio, returned Aug. 6 from a sixth-month deployment to Sather Air Base, Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn. A Purple Heart was waiting for one of these Airmen upon return.
     Staff Sgt. Tyler Ogden arrived in country Jan. 27. This 29-year-old Springfield, Ohio, native was assigned to the 447th Expeditionary SFS with the rest of the deployed 178 SFS.
     The unit's mission included three areas: personnel resource security, personal security detail and Iraqi training assistance, said Master Sgt. Jeffrey King, who was 178 SFS's senior ranking enlisted Airmen on the deployment.
     Although most first time deployers don't fulfill back office or mission support duties, Ogden deployed as a vehicle control officer, Ogden said. Vehicle control is a 24/7 operation in which the team manages assets to sustain the mission, while losing assets due to the drawdown in Iraq.
     "I didn't have a lot of leisure time," said Ogden, who oversaw the operation and maintenance of more than 45 vehicles. After a few months, Ogden had more free time in the evenings after work, so two or three times each week he would fish or take others to fish and relax at an Army morale, wellness and recreation facility called Freedom Rest.
     On July 8, Ogden, as well as 178 SFS Staff Sgts. Timothy Keller and Robert Bragg, and Staff Sgt. Jessica Humphreys of the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah, decided to go fishing at the usual place. They had a two-way radio, but they could only hear transmissions due to communication issues.
     "I was reeling in a fish, and the alarms were over top of us--any other night they were off in the distance," said Ogden recalling the night.
     The alarms were an alert of an indirect fire attack with multiple 107 mm rockets, said King. Minutes later, a rocket impacted 40 feet away from the Airmen.
     Bragg and Humphreys successfully sheltered behind a truck. In the rush to seek cover, a fish hook caught Ogden's shoulder, preventing him from reaching shelter.
     "[Ogden] took some shrapnel. The rest of them had concussions due to the base of the blast--ringing in the ears, headaches..." said King. 
     "I did not realize that I had been hurt," said Ogden. "Once they called for the all clear, Jessica and Robert came over to where I was at. I stood back up...I remember this burning sensation in the back of my leg, like something hurt, but there was no pain..."
     "I looked down, and there's a puddle of blood at my feet," said Ogden.
Shrapnel from the blast had entered the back of his right leg, forming a two-inch puncture wound at the site of entry and then traveling six inches down into his leg.
     After having Ogden lay back down, Keller administered first aid by applying pressure to the wound, while Humphreys kept Ogden as calm as possible.
     Bragg ran to find help and returned with an off-duty Army medic who continued to administer care.
     "I can really thank Bragg....and Keller for saving my life," said Ogden. "If it wasn't for Keller plugging it up initially, and if it wasn't for Bragg running to get help, I might not have survived."
     He was triaged at Camp Liberty, where some 20 personnel worked on him, before he was transferred to Sather AB hospital for further treatment.
     Ogden decided to stay with his unit in country, complete the remainder of his tour and return home with his unit. He spent the next 26 days in bed.
     His roommate, Staff Sgt. Travis Higgins of the 178 SFS, took over Ogden's job as vehicle control officer, and put in long hours to do so, said Ogden.
     "That man stressed himself out quite a bit doing it those last 30 days. He really put his body through [the ringer] trying to get things done," said Ogden. Higgins also changed  Ogden's bandages and took care of him on a daily basis, he said.
     Senior Airman Cody Gebele and Staff Sgt. Daniel Jung of the 178 SFS, as well as others, also took care of him and checked in on him, said Ogden.
     "It's a good feeling to know that there are people there that care so much as to sacrifice their own sleep, their own time, to take care of someone else," said Ogden. "All of those people that took care of me, took care of me clear up to the end, and they are still up to this day helping me out."
     "My [Guard] family here helps and supports each other, and would do pretty much anything for each other. We're pretty tough...we work hard both here and abroad, and in our civilian jobs and civilian lives," said Ogden in regards to his unit.
     Upon return from the deployment, the shrapnel was removed from Ogden's leg.
     In recognition of his injury, Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, Ohio adjutant general, decorated Ogden with a Purple Heart Dec. 3 during a ceremony at Springfield Air National Guard Base.
     "The Purple Heart is awarded to anyone who receives injuries due to enemy fire," said Ogden. "I am open to the graciousness of the service and everything it has done for me."
     Ogden is in rehabilitation, and he continues his service with the 178 SFS.