UTANG Airman receives Purple Heart

  • Published
  • By Maj. Marie Denson
  • 151st Air Refueling Wing
On April 9, 2022, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Hardwick, 109th Air Control Squadron, was presented the Purple Heart Medal by Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, at Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base, Utah.

Hardwick was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action on Jan. 8, 2020, while deployed to Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, as a staff weather officer in the 22nd Expeditionary Weather Squadron. During this time, he was serving as an active-duty soldier for the U.S. Army.

While there, members were informed of a planned Iranian missile attack on the base. Hardwick, along with his commander and a radio telephone operator, helped close the tactical operations center down to prepare for evacuation. After they closed down the TOC, the three members took shelter. Before they were able to leave the base, the shelter was hit by several theater ballistic missiles. Hardwick sustained injuries evacuated to Germany for treatment. Despite his injury, he requested to return to be with his team for the remainder of the deployment.

“Through all the 37 years that I have been in the military, I see the person who wears the Purple Heart as a specific and unique individual. One who has laid down their blood for us,” said Turley. “I just want to thank [Staff Sgt. Hardwick]. I want him to know how much I appreciate his service, and I am honored to be here to present this award.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest military award presented to U.S. service members. It is awarded to personnel who received wounds in action against an armed enemy during periods of war or armed conflict or lost their lives as a result of action by hostile foreign forces. During peacetime, the award is given to personnel wounded or killed while part of a peacekeeping force or by terrorist action.