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In honor of Purple Heart Day we’re telling the story of a truck-driver-soldier that was wounded in action.

Camp Taji is one of the most dangerous corners of the world: It’s nicknamed the Sunni Triangle, and it is the former throne of the brutal terrorist Saddam Hussein; he was captured less than ten miles from the triangulation of terrorism.

This hard-baked desert wasteland is an open lab for chemicals used to create weapons of mass destruction made from “cookbook” directions. In one event, “UNSCOM found at Taji 6,000 empty canisters designed to be filled with chemical weapons for use in 122mm rockets,” according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

It was through this hellish kitchen that a truck driver named Staff Sgt. Khevin G. Smith convoyed on his way to Camp Liberty, working as a heavy-wheel operator.

As the convoy rolled over the trackless, barren earth, militants ambushed Sgt. Smith, striking his Heavy Equipment Transporter with a vehicle-borne explosive device. 

Smith acted quickly, showing tremendous courage– although he was wounded from the blast, after surviving the initial explosion, Smith pulled his truck commander, Spc Morris Smith free from the vehicle.

“The actions of Martin and the escorts from the 3rd Battalion, 117th Field Artillery Regiment, Alabama Army National Guard are the reason we’re here, said Smith, whose unit deployed from Fort Benning, Ga. He praised God for their safety under fire.

Later, Smith was awarded the Purple Heart, which  “Although this is the award that nobody wants to get, said O’Neill, to be able to pin this award on a Soldier is a great joy. It means the equipment, the training, and circumstance, which none of us get to predict or script, allowed him to be standing here with us,” according to the Defense Visual Information Service.

The awarding commanding officer advised, “You don’t need to go get another one of those. One’s enough.”