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.


 
 

 

Thunderbolt of the Week

Airman 1st Class Anna Valdez 56th Contracting Squadron Contracting specialist Hometown: Moscow Years in service: One Family: Husband, Phil; mother, Natalia; and father, Oleg Education: Russian State University of Trade and Economics bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics Inspirations: My parents demonstrated excellence and success in a loving environment, taught me to never give up...
 
 

Luke announces E-5 selects

The promotion list for staff sergeant was announced Air Force-wide July 10. The following senior airmen were selected for promotion at Luke Air Force Base: 56th Fighter Wing Joshua Belanger 56th Operations Support Squadron Clifton Bond, Philip Conklin, Matthew Goodspeed, Daniel Oakland, Ross Payne and Christopher Sparks 310th Fighter Squadron Melissa Juchniewicz 56th Maintenance Group...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Luke welcomes new MDG commander

Courtesy photo Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, passes the guidon to Col. Maureen Charles, incoming 56th Medical Group commander, during a change-of-command ceremony July 18 in Hanger 431 at Luke Air Force B...
 

 

THUNDERBOLT OF THE WEEK

Staff Sgt. Jesse Bloom Detachment 12, 372nd Training Squadron F-35 TAMS instructor Hometown: Canton, Ohio Years in service: Seven Education: Community College of the Air Force degree in applied science, technical military science instructor, bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Ashford College Previous assignments: Nellis Air Force Base Inspirations: Anyone who has faced advers...
 
 
7-140708-F-BW200-047

56th AMXS changes command

Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer Col. Victor Mora, 56th Maintenance Group commander, passes the guidon to Maj. David Lemery, incoming 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, July 8 during a change of command ceremony at Luke Air ...
 
 

Thunderbolt of the Week

Staff Sgt. Joshua White 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Occupational health NCO-in-charge Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland Years in service: 10 Family: Wife, Angela Education: Pursuing a public health bachelor’s degree at Wayland Baptist University Previous assignments: Andersen Air Base, Guam; Kadena AB, Japan, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri Inspirations: My dad for being a good role model,...
 




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