Salutes & Awards

March 21, 2014

Marine awarded Purple Heart

Tags:
Staff Sgt. LUTHER MITCHELL Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. David Sierleja, Bulk Fuel Company inspector instructor, pins the Purple Heart on medically retired Staff Sgt. Keith Darnell Feb. 7 at Luke Air Force Base. Darnell received the award for injuries he sustained while deployed to Afghanistan.

The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized awards given to military members injured in the line of duty. A marine recently received the award at the Marine Corps detachment on Luke Air Force Base for injuries sustained while fighting in Afghanistan.

He vividly recalls the events that led up to his injury and the difficult road to recovery that earned him one of the United States’ oldest awards.

“I was on patrol with a squad from the 1st Light Armor Reconnaissance Battalion based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.,” said Keith Darnall, a retired Marine Corps staff sergeant who served as a counter intelligence specialist. “We stopped at an area frequently visited to check its potential to be developed into a fortified position. I was holding a security position with my interpreter when I noticed a male Afghan watching us from the south side of the river.”

Darnall went to speak to his squad leader about the suspicious individual and as their squad moved out of sight, the Afghan detonated an improvised explosive device. The device detonated right under Darnall and his squad members, killing one Marine and leaving another with serious fractures from the blast.

“When the bomb went off, I just remember hearing the explosion and seeing things flying,” he said.

Darnall’s training immediately took over after the blast as he slowly regained consciousness.

“I dragged my interpreter to cover and started directing the Marines around me to take up positions in case of an ambush,” he said.

Darnall sustained a traumatic brain injury from the blast and to this day has issues with his memory and concentration.

“We can be in the middle of a conversation and I will completely forget what we were talking about,” he said.

He suffers from chronic migraines and some days is unable to get out of the bed. He also sustained damage to his spine. These injuries have prevented him from spending time with his family like he wants to.

“The worst part is not being able to spend time with my kid,” Darnall said. “I will start to play with my son and 20 minutes later I get a migraine, and I have to tell him, ‘Daddy has to go lay down right now. I can’t play with you,’” he said. “It sucks because I can see he really wants to spend time with me.”

Darnall has no regrets though. Joining the Marines is one of the best things he has done, he said. He is grateful to have received the Purple Heart, but at first he was skeptical whether he deserved the award.

“Before I had these injuries, I was skeptical of other people who said they had injuries,” Darnall said. “I grew up deploying where if an injury wasn’t severe, you didn’t get a Purple Heart. These types of invisible injuries were hard for me to accept initially because I didn’t understand the extent of my injuries.”

Darnall now has a new respect for people with similar injuries. More people should receive this award for these injuries, he said. However, he knows that cases like his are difficult to prove. He takes life on a day-to-day basis and is grateful to the Marines Corps for recognizing his service.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
141119-F-HT977-165

Chiefs announced

Senior master sergeants selected for promotion to chief master sergeant at Luke Air Force Base posed in front of the static F-16 Fighting Falcon in front of the wing headquarters building. They are, from left, Kelbey Norton, 56...
 
 

Enlisted promotion system changes continue

WASHINGTON — This January, changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System will continue with adjustments to the scoring model for promotions to technical sergeant and below, all designed to help ensure job performance is the most important factor when evaluating and identifying Airmen for promotion. The current WAPS enlisted performance report calculation model for technical...
 
 

THUNDERBOLT OF THE WEEK

Staff Sgt. Dustin Rysavy-Hollis 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Aircrew Egress Systems Journeyman Home town: Apopka, Florida Years in service: Five Family: Father, Tim Hollis and mom, Roxann Rysavy Previous assignments: Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom Inspirations: My father is a huge inspiration; he works hard for what he gets Greatest feat: Performed a recovery...
 

 

ALS graduates 31 senior airmen

The 56th Fighter Wing Airman Leadership School graduated 31 senior airmen Oct. 23 from class 14-7. The award winners are: John L. Levitow Award: Andrea Romo, 162nd Force Support Squadron Distinguished graduates: Frederick Anglin, 56th Comptroller Squadron; and Aaron Norfleet, 56th Communications Squadron Commandant’s Award: Aaron Norfleet, 56th CS Academic Achievement Award: Frederick Anglin,...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Retired chief bleeds blue

Courtesy photo Ret. Chief Master Sgt. Geno Piccoli Fighting for something you believe in means it is very important to your life. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Geno Piccoli, 56th Force Support Squadron administrative assistant, and...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Injured EOD Airman returns to fuller life

Courtesy photo Catching a wave, retired Tech. Sgt. Matthew Slaydon and wife, Annette, enjoy a second honeymoon following the renewal of their marriage vows May 8, 2008, in Hawaii. In an instant, he went from living his dream to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin