FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – One of 15 servicemen who received the Purple Heart on Tuesday for being wounded in Afghanistan said his injury wasn't as important as winning the war on terrorism.
"The overall objective of what has happened, when you look at that, the bigger picture, this isn't quite so bad," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael McElhiney, a Kansas City, Mo., native who lost his arm last month when a U.S. bomb missed its target and landed 100 yards from his team near Kandahar. Three soldiers were killed.
Thirteen Army special forces soldiers and two Air Force Special Operations airmen joined McElhiney in receiving the Purple Heart. They were hurt either in Kandahar or during an uprising by Taliban prisoners at a fortress outside of Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, presented the medals in a ceremony at Fort Campbell.
In addition to McElhiney, the soldiers who received the Purple Heart were Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Raikes, Capt. Jason Amerine, Sgt. 1st Class David Kennedy, Staff Sgt. Bradley Fowers, Sgt. 1st Class Vaughn Berntson, Staff Sgt. Wesley McGirr, Capt. John Leopold, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Terry Reed, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Pickett, Staff Sgt. Hamid Fathi and Specialist John Menefee.
One soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Gilbert Magallanes Jr., was absent from the ceremony because he was recovering in a Bethesda, Md., hospital, said Major Robert Gowen.
McElhiney, Amerine, Magallanes, McGirr, and Pickett also each received a Bronze Star.
The airmen honored with Purple Hearts were Staff Sgt. Craig Musselman and Staff Sgt. Alan Yoshita.
Four soldiers who had previously received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained near Kandahar were also given the Bronze Star on Tuesday. They were Capt. Kevin Leahy, Capt. Paul Syverson, 1st Staff Sgt. David Betz and Sgt. 1st Class Paul Beck.
The wives of two of three Green Berets killed in Afghanistan attended the ceremony. The three men have been awarded Purple Hearts posthumously.