HomeNewsArticle Display

Moody Airman receives Purple Heart

Then, Airman 1st Class Jeremy Birchfield is presented the Purple Heart in a ceremony at Camp Victory, Iraq Sept. 24, 2006. The 824th Security Forces Squadron turret gunner was hit by a sniper during patrol operations Sept. 22, 2006. He is the first Airman from the 824th SFS to receive the medal. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jesse Smith)

Then, Airman 1st Class Jeremy Birchfield is presented the Purple Heart in a ceremony at Camp Victory, Iraq Sept. 24, 2006. The 824th Security Forces Squadron turret gunner was hit by a sniper during patrol operations Sept. 22, 2006. He is the first Airman from the 824th SFS to receive the medal. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jesse Smith)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNEWS) -- When a sniper's bullet careened off his turret-mounted machine gun and struck his side, the last thing the young Airman thought was that he had just been shot.

Senior Airman Jeremy Birchfield, 824th Security Forces Squadron turret gunner, had just paid a local Iraqi boy to get him a pizza, while he and half of his squad provided security around a police station in downtown Baghdad.

The rest of the unit was inside the building, training Iraqi policemen after a morning patrol Sept. 21, 2006.

"I heard a pop and saw a puff of brown smoke as I was standing to adjust my gear. It felt like somebody had kneed me in the hip," said Airman Birchfield. "I thought somebody had thrown a flash-bang into my Hummer as a joke."

A fellow squad member, Senior Airman Ashley-Ann Cady, was the only one who saw the flash and sparks of the rifle round striking Airman Birchfield's barrel. As a sharpshooter, she knew immediately what she just saw and her response was instantaneous.

"Sniper! Get down! Everyone get down!" she screamed.

Only then did it make sense to the injured Airman.

"Airman Cady put it together faster then all of us. She probably saved somebody from another shot," said Airman Birchfield.

In the fumbling scramble, Staff Sgt. Chad Henderson, the Humvee driver and radio-telephone operator, made it to the gunner's side and began first aid.

"He had fallen out of the turret seat into the cab," said Sergeant Henderson. "I cut his waistband to expose his hip and I could see right away the wound wasn't as bad as we had all feared."

The wounded gunner knew the other six members of his squad were still inside the Iraqi police station, unaware of what was going on outside.

"With (Sergeant) Henderson working on my side and (Airman) Cady yelling at the locals to get down, I got on the radio to the rest of the squad," said Airman Birchfield.

"Proper procedure in the case of a sniper is to take cover and not expose more people in case the shooter decides to try again," he added. "But our medic came out of the station right away to do his part."

With the area secured and the squad mounted up, Sergeant Henderson drove at top speed through the crowded streets of Baghdad to the nearest hospital in the "Green Zone" while he worked the radios to tell them they were coming.

"It's a 30-minute drive with good traffic," said the Sergeant. "We made it there in 10 minutes, sirens blaring the whole way."

As they sped toward the medical center, Airman Birchfield remained in good spirits.

"I was lying in the back holding on and joking that the Iraqi kid was going to take my money and I wasn't going to get any pizza," he said.

As the squad's Humvees arrived at the Army hospital in the Green Zone, a team of medics awaited Airman Birchfield's arrival.

"I got out of the Humvee under my own power and the medics all looked a bit disappointed," he chuckled.

The Airman used a borrowed cell phone to call his mother from the his bed. He was treated and released from the hospital the next day.

On Sept. 24, 2006, before his entire squadron, Airman Birchfield became the first person assigned to the 824th SFS to receive the Purple Heart.

After spending two weeks on quarters, he was allowed to rejoin his squad; he has since made a full recovery with no lasting ill effects.

"I told my team leader I wanted to be back in my turret in the lead vehicle again. I wouldn't have it any other way," he said. "It warms my heart to know people in my squad would risk their lives to help me when I needed them most."

Engage

Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: When windshield wipers just don't cut it...the NFAC team at @AEDCnews recently added rain simulation to the organization’s po…
Twitter
Training for tomorrow's fight today. An #Airman demonstrations how to use a new virtual reality training station a… https://t.co/mTgEFxsuCv
Twitter
That's a lot of mileage. A KC-46 Pegasus refuels a C-17 Globemaster III over the Atlantic Ocean. The C-17 fleet hi… https://t.co/nPE3zqGW0g
Twitter
How do you balance protecting wildlife while also reducing the risk to Airmen? @JBLEnews partnered with @USDA and… https://t.co/XrrUTwGGZC
Twitter
Give @GenCQBrownJr a follow for the latest on how he's leading the charge to accelerate change throughout the… https://t.co/FjImSy8fw9
Twitter
RT @LloydAustin: To everyone on the force: I'm proud to be back on the team. https://t.co/3qyvmGMsu1
Twitter
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen conduct first-ever refueling mission with Qatari Emiri Air Force This event bu… https://t.co/Pd7kzFXZqc
Twitter
With more than 69,000 sorties flown by 30 different types of aircraft, Operation Desert Storm marked the most rapid… https://t.co/2WXlQcSipC
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations, 2Lt Gerlica! #FlyFightWin https://t.co/gDrMYmTlAN
Twitter
Aggressive acceleration. An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 57th Wing takes off @NellisAFB. The wing’s missio… https://t.co/HG9t6c8pza
Twitter
RT @PANationalGuard: A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 171st Air Refueling Wing sits on the flight line during the first snowfall of th…
Twitter
Falcons get thirsty too A U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender conducts aerial refueling with an F-16 Fighting Falcon in… https://t.co/QUsB3DDSrh
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: I’d say it’s long overdue... https://t.co/26nLAeVSjS Not all women have the same type of hair, and these standards nee…
Twitter
#AirForce women will now be allowed longer braids, ponytails and bangs while in uniform. These new changes will be… https://t.co/AFp18NftZJ
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a weapons #Airman? @AvianoAB’s 31st Maintenance Group invited Airmen from other career fi…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: "I’m eager to continue the momentum Secretary Barrett and these two great military leaders put into motion as we work to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,315,319
Follow Us