Purple Hearts

Maj. Gen. James Linder, front, commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan, pins the Purple Heart Medal on Sgt. Joseph Dipietrantonio, right, in Bagram, Afghanistan on May 10, 2018. Dipietrantonio, a native of Cumberland, Maine, and Spc. Darrin Whitehurst, left, of Steubenville, Ohio, were both awarded the Purple Heart Medal for saving the lives of American soldiers and Afghan partnered soldiers. Both soldiers are with A Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade.

On May 10, 2018, two soldiers from the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade were awarded Purple Heart Medals and Combat Action Badges in Bagram, Afghanistan, for their efforts during a 12-hour engagement with the enemy during combat operations.

Sgt. Joseph Dipietrantonio and Spc. Darrin Whitehurst, both with A Company, 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, were conducting signal intelligence operations in support of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan and Afghan National Defense Security Forces in their fight against Taliban forces, said Command Sgt. Maj. Allen Brooks, the senior enlisted leader from the 504th MI’s 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion. The team was providing force protection to the ground forces by looking for early warning indicators of a possible attack.

Maj. Gen. James Linder, the commander of Combined Joint Special Operations task Force-Afghanistan, recognized the two soldiers in a ceremony on Bagram Airfield.

On April 29, 2018, Dipietrantonio and Whitehurst were providing that early warning detection to a Special Operations Forces unit on the ground, Brooks said. The unit received heavy enemy contact from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Both soldiers received shrapnel wounds from RPG blasts detonating near their position.

Despite their wounds, the soldiers continued to perform their duties and returned fire in support of the unit’s effort to repel the enemy force during the 12-hour-long engagement. Both insisted on staying on the ground and refused to evacuate before the end of the mission to allow for the evacuation of other injured soldiers.

Both soldiers had minor surgeries to remove shrapnel and are doing well, Brooks said. Their actions on the battlefield helped ensure the overall success of the mission and saved both American and Afghan soldiers’ lives.

To receive the Purple Heart Medal, a service member must sustain wounds during combat operations against enemy forces. The Combat Action Badge is awarded to service members who were engaged in combat with the enemy.

Dipietrantonio, a native of Cumberland, Maine, joined the Army in 2012 as a signals intelligence analyst and has been a member of the 504th MI since 2014. He returned to Fort Hood at the end of May. He plans to conclude his military service and move to Kentucky with his wife and son.

Whitehurst, of Steubenville, Ohio, joined the Army in 2013 as a signals intelligence cryptologic linguist and came to the 504th MI in 2015. He said he looks forward to several more years of military service. Shortly after the awarding ceremony, he returned home for rest and refit leave and returned to Afghanistan to continue to support operations.

He returned last week with soldiers of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade from their year-long deployment.

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