Sergeant receives purple heart for injuries suffered while serving with Army in Iraq

Staff Sgt. Pablo Martinez Jr. and Argo on patrol in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Pablo Martinez Jr. and Argo on patrol in Iraq.

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The pomp and circumstance April 21 was more than Staff Sgt. Pablo Martinez Jr. said he felt he deserved. 

He was doing his job in Iraq, just like every Airman sent to the theater has done and is doing now. But not every Airman is coming home with a Purple Heart. 

"When we deploy, you never know," said Sergeant Martinez, a military working dog handler at the 82nd Security Forces Squadron. "I'm proud to be on the team of people out there getting the mission done." 

Sergeant Martinez and his military working dog, Argo, were awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained while on duty in Kirkuk, Iraq, during his deployment from November to March. According to a citation read at the pinning ceremony, Sergeant Martinez and Argo were patrolling with the 101st Airborne Division Feb. 17 when the humvee they were in was hit by an improvised explosive device. 

The IED, about 15-feet from the vehicle when it exploded, caused extensive damage to the vehicle and personnel. 

"We were on our way to a mission," Sergeant Martinez said. "I don't want to relive what happened to me that day." 

With that subtle statement, the description of the events of Feb. 17 ended.
More than 200 personnel from the 82nd Mission Support Group shared in the sergeant's experience of honoring an Airmen who put his life in harm's way to help a fledgling democracy stand on its own. 

Sergeant Martinez said he was still in awe following the ceremony. But his thoughts were elsewhere. 

"Everyone in my team did" the same, he said. "I wasn't the only one."
The Purple Heart is awarded to any U.S. servicemember who is wounded or injured in a combat zone.