For Tech. Sgt. Michael Pasley, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team leader, Jan. 31 was a special and memorable day. During a promotion ceremony, he was presented the Purple Heart by Col. Robert Webb, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, for action in Afghanistan Jan. 16, 2012.
Pasley’s Purple Heart was given Nov. 26 under the hand of Lt. Gen. David Goldfein, U. S. Air Forces Central commander.
Pasley was conducting combat operations with the 466th EOD Operating Location – Alpha in Afghanistan.
“My team was called from Forward Operating Base Andar to conduct a post-blast analysis of an Army vehicle that struck an improvised explosive device earlier in the day,” he said. “Our EOD team arrived on scene at approximately 2 p.m. and met with the on-scene commander who had established 360 degree security around the damaged vehicle.”
As Pasley’s team got closer to the blast site, the danger increased radically.
“Our team maneuvered our vehicle closer to the post-blast analysis site following in the tracks of three previous vehicles,” he said. “The team traveled approximately 40 meters when our vehicle activated a pressure plate IED, which detonated underneath the driver’s side of the vehicle. I was driving the vehicle at the time of the explosion.”
Fortunately, Pasley remained conscious for the duration of the incident, but he said he did experience dizziness, headaches and body aches immediately after the explosion.
He recalled that when the team returned to FOB Andar, they were examined by Army medics and were put on a 24-hour mandatory rest, but it became apparent that more medical testing was necessary.
“After the required 24-hour rest, we returned to the medical facility in order to determine our fitness to return to duty,” Pasley said. “I displayed effects that were cause for concern and was put on an additional 24-hour rest period. After the second rest period, our team was cleared for full duty and would be redeploying soon. But while at Bagram Air Base for redeployment, due to continuing indications of injuries, our team was encouraged by EOD supervisors to see the medical support staff.”
The examination at Bagram showed Pasley’s injuries to be more serious than originally thought. He said he was diagnosed and treated by an Army neurologist and an Air Force doctor for a traumatic brain injury, a concussion and was told that a previous disc problem in his lower back had worsened. He was given medication for these conditions.
Pasley said he still suffers from traumatic brain injury symptoms, which include headaches and short-term memory loss. He is also plagued by herniated discs in his lower back.
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy or posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those individuals who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. The original Purple Heart was called the Badge of Military Merit and was established by George Washington in 1782. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president of the United States.