Physician assistant receives Purple Heart

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Gregoire
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
An Airman who survived an improvised explosive device attack in December isn't likely to forget that moment -- or the one when he was presented a Purple Heart by the chief of staff of the Air Force Feb. 4.

Capt. Kevin Fischer is a physician assistant assigned to the 732nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron at Al Kasik Military Training Base, Iraq. He was a passenger on a convoy when the Humvee he was riding in stopped because of a suspicious garbage bag on the edge of the road.

The IED detonated, injuring the Soldier in the gunner's turret and Captain Fischer. The Army specialist had wounds to his face, lower abdomen, right arm and leg. Captain Fischer sustained shrapnel wounds to his right eye, cheek and chin. While evacuating the disabled Humvee they came under small arms fire and hit the ground, crawling to the other side of the disabled truck for cover.

They made it to the convoy's aid and litter vehicle, where Captain Fischer assessed the gunner's wounds and discovered them to be potentially life threatening. Both of them were evacuated to the Army Combat Support Hospital in Mosul.

"I didn't comprehend my own mortality until the ride to the hospital," Captain Fischer said.

"Even though Captain Fischer was bleeding profusely from his eye socket, he managed to pull the gunner from the turret and assessed his injuries," said Lt. Col. Matthew Beckage, the 732nd ELRS commander.

Once an enlisted laboratory technician, the captain said the experience changed his outlook on convoys.

"I've been on several since then and I'm more vigilant. It's like someone hit the reset button and I'm as cautious as I was on my first convoy where I'm thinking every little piece of anything on the side of the road looks suspicious," Captain Fischer said.

Having Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, present the Purple Heart was a great honor, he said.

"I was thinking to myself 'shake, take, salute' and was intently listening to what he was saying. Next thing I know he hugs me and I became his brother in arms versus his subordinate. He amazed me," Captain Fischer said.

During his deployment, Captain Fischer was the senior medical advisor for the Iraqi Army's Regional Support Unit and 3rd Division.

"I led them to develop their medical system, which included medical education, operations, plans, logistics, emergency response, mass casualty, public health, preventive maintenance, trauma skill training and ambulance operations," said Captain Fischer, who had a staff of two Iraqi translators and three Navy and four Air Force medical technicians.

Colonel Beckage read the Purple Heart citation during the ceremony.

"We're very proud of Captain Fischer. He truly embodies what 'Service Before Self' means. We're also proud of the hard work he's done as the senior medical advisor at Al Kasik. Captain Fischer is making a difference," Colonel Beckage said.

Captain Fischer had been deployed to Al Kasik since May 2006. He returns to the 1st Special Operation Support Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in March -- just in time to attend the Air Force's Aerospace Medicine Primary Course at Brooks City Base, Texas.
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