Local Soldier Receives Medal 27 Sep 12

A Minnesota National Guard soldier from Redwood Falls is among 3 soldiers to receive the “Soldiers Medal For Heroism” for their actions rescuing civilians in Iraq last year. The incident happened during the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division’s yearlong deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in 2011. Sergeant Shawn Schmidt of Redwood Falls, along with Staff Sergeant Nicholas Purkat of Sunburg and Specialist Christopher Edwards of Albert Lea were providing convoy security just inside the Iraq border when they spotted a cloud of smoke in the distance. It turned out to be a head-on crash involving more than 16 Iraqi citizens who were injured or trapped. The Minnesota soldiers were credited with pulling the citizens from the burning wreckage, providing medical assistance and helping Iraqi police take the injured to a local hospital. Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal, the second-highest-ranking member of the Army, presented the medals to the 3 at Camp Ripley on Saturday. He said the incident exemplifies the selfless nature of American forces.