By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Spc. Brian Bickerton served in the Marines four years before getting out to join the civilian world. It just wasn't for him, though, and he had a family to support, so the Iowa native joined the Army in February 2006 and deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, later that year.
On June 4, Bickerton and his unit were on a routine check in Al Khalis, which is in the Diyala province of Iraq. There they found Iraqi soldiers and police engaged in a firefight with insurgents. The 1st Cavalry soldiers joined the fight, and Bickerton was shot through the back side of his left hip.
He was one of 24 soldiers honored at the 1st Cavalry's Purple Heart and volunteer-awardee ceremony Tuesday at Fort Hood's Catering and Conference Center. Thirty volunteers were also recognized at the event.
After he was shot, 27-year-old Bickerton was evacuated by Humvee to Camp Warhorse and then to Camp Anaconda before flying to Germany, Maryland and finally, to Fort Hood.
Bickerton and his wife, Melissa, have two children and four stepchildren, all between 1 and 9 years old. He walked in the front door, and the kids thought, "Oh, Dad's home!" and they wanted to play, he said.
Not being able to play with his kids has been a big challenge for the soldier. He walks with a cane, and that has limited his mobility.
Bickerton has been told it will take nine months to a year for him to fully recover, but he's hopeful because he's been healing at a faster-than-expected rate, he said.
Col. (promotable) Curtis D. Potts, commander of the Operational Test Command, led the ceremony and said the Purple Heart was something nobody tries to earn, but the soldiers sitting in front of him did earn it and he thanked them for their "personal sacrifice."
Bickerton was humble about the accolades he and the other soldiers received at the ceremony because he doesn't consider himself a hero.
"The real heroes are the ones who aren't here with us today," he said, referring to the soldiers who have lost their lives. "Those are the guys who deserve it."
They, and the family members – spouses, children and parents – of those fallen soldiers, he said.
"Those are the heroes."
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7547