By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
When Spc. Regina Cottman was injured in Iraq, she turned to her father - a Vietnam War veteran - for advice.
"He's been there," she said.
The Colorado native was reluctant to tell her family what happened on Sept. 4, 2007, because she knew they'd worry. She also knew her father, a former Marine, would understand.
Cottman was the gunner in a the lead gun truck on a convoy headed toward Rustamiyah. A roadside bomb exploded on the right side of the road and shrapnel hit the windows, blew out the tires and struck Cottman in the cheek before she could duck.
Cottman sustained a concussion and remembered sleeping for several days. Her back and head hurt every now and then, and she sees a chiropractor for the injuries.
Cottman was awarded a Purple Heart April 28 for the wounds she sustained while serving with the 1st Cavalry Division's 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
The medal was a long in coming and "very due," said Col. Jeffrey Sauer, the division's rear detachment commander.
Cottman now serves on the brigade's rear detachment while its soldiers are deployed to Iraq.
Her husband, Sgt. Daniel Cottman, also serves in the brigade and was at Fort Hood to see Regina receive her Purple Heart. He broke his collarbone and is recovering at home. Their 4-month-old son, Urijah, was also at the ceremony last week.
Cottman thinks back to that day in early September 2007 and it's hard for her to process what happened.
"Wow, that really happened," she said.
She was just 21 years old and serving her first deployment when injured.
She joined the Army because it's something she wanted to try.
Her father was a Marine and her grandfather and aunt were in the Army.
Her brother is an active-duty soldier in Alaska.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.