Pointing to a deployment patch on his right shoulder, Maj. Gen. Ted Martin spoke pointedly to a small audience of his experience while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Martin, commander of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, described Tikrit, Iraq, as a hotbed of insurgent activity, where he served with the 4th Infantry Division in 2003. He was not reminiscing to old pals, but instead setting the tone for an award ceremony here, April 8.
Martin awarded a Purple Heart Medal to Kathy Ruddy, Army Veteran and now senior civilian paralegal, post trial and victim witness liaison with Staff Judge Advocate, here.
In 2003, Ruddy was a specialist in the Army at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division – the brigade Martin would command from 2007 to 2009. Ruddy was injured Sept. 26, 2003 when her convoy of three came under attack, first by a road side improvised explosive device, then by insurgent gun fire.
Ruddy’s mission Sept. 26 was to escort one of her Soldiers from Tekrit to Balad, Iraq. The convoy came under attack approximately 15 minutes into the escort when an IED detonated under the engine block of a humvee behind her. Ruddy suffered a concussion when her own humvee lifted off the ground forcing her head into the rear cab of the vehicle.
“At that time it was shaken off like no big deal,” Ruddy said. “They said you’ll be alright. So the next day I was back on the convoys again.”
After the explosion, Ruddy exited the vehicle and returned fire on insurgents in a tree line. No lives were lost in the targeted vehicle behind Ruddy, however many suffered extensive percussion and “sand blast” injuries.
“What they use to do on humvees that weren’t up-armored was to place sand bags on the floorboard and then plywood was placed on top of that.” Ruddy said.
During the early months of OIF, Soldiers often retrofitted their humvees to withstand the current battle conditions.
“I like to call those days the Wild West,” Martin said. “If we had up-armored Humvees, I didn’t see them. Everything was no doors with rifles slung out the side.”
Ruddy was frequently under attack by grenade and gun fire. She described one attack involving a “large, long missile.” It punctured the second floor of the Civilian Military Information Center where she worked, and fortunately, did not detonate.
She would make the daily trek from Camp Raider, a forward operating base, to where she worked in Tikrit, always on high alert and often targeted by insurgent gun fire.
Ruddy’s main duties while working at the Civilian Military Information Center was to assist Army Civil Affairs establish seven courthouses in the Salah Ad Din province and also assist with foreign claims when necessary. She also helped in the culturally sensitive task of searching Iraqi women.
Three months after Ruddy’s incident, the 1BCT/4ID, commanded by Col. James Hickey, captured Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13, 2003 during Operation Red Dawn.