Injured Marine Has Purple Heart Taken Away

January 26th, 2005  
Duty Honor Country

Topic: Injured Marine Has Purple Heart Taken Away

Injured Marine Has Purple Heart Taken Away
Dept. Of Defense Says Ferrell Injured In Truck Crash, Not Explosion

POSTED: 5:51 pm PST January 24, 2005
UPDATED: 10:01 am PST January 25, 2005

VACAVILLE, Calif. -- The U.S. Department of Defense is facing increasing criticism following its decision to remove the Purple Heart given to a Vacaville Marine.l

Lt. Dustin Ferrell (pictured, left), 26, was riding in a huge convoy that was invading Iraq in 2003 when his Humvee seemingly exploded. The driver was killed, and three Marines were seriously injured, including Ferrell.

"My jaw, all of that, was just splintered," Ferrell said. "Because of that, I had swelling that required a tracheotomy. (I had a) bruised lung, and I dislocated my left hip. I lost 14 of my teeth, and I lost vision in my right eye."

Unable to speak or breathe on his own, Ferrell -- a former student at Vacaville High School -- received a surprise from Gen. William Nyland, who awarded him the Purple Heart.

"That was one of the biggest things. I knew I was going to live. I knew my life was changed, but I was pretty proud at that point," Ferrell said.

Then in December, letters from the U.S. Department of Defense said that the explosion wasn't an enemy bomb, but a collision with a five-ton Army truck. Subsequently, Ferrell's Purple Heart was revoked because the injury didn't result directly from combat.

"He sustained injuries that almost cost him his life, and to me, that warranted a Purple Heart. But to have them take it back away from him, I don't understand why," said Vicky Huston Isgrigg, Ferrell's mother.

Now, at least one congressman and several veterans groups are raising questions and writing protest letters on behalf of Farrell. They want to see his Purple Heart restored.

"I think he was injured in combat, which reflects why he was given the medal in the first place," said Ken Kimseu, spokesman for Disabled American Veterans.

Meanwhile, Ferrell -- who is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- is still undergoing surgeries to rebuild his mouth.

January 26th, 2005  
It's too bad. But if it was not as a result of combat with an a enemy force then it doesn't meet the criteria. The authorizing authority should take heat for issuing the Decoration in the first place.

According to established policy motor vehicle accidents do not merit award of the Purple Heart Medal just because they occur in a designated Combat Zone. If the accident had occured while under fire then it's different.
January 26th, 2005  
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