By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – After two deployments in an infantry battalion, Sgt. Adam Moore is a war-weathered soldier.
He admits he is "used to the death thing" after losing many friends and having a comrade die in his arms after being shot for a pair of sunglasses.
But, the fire fight that occurred April 27 on the bank of the Tigris River, in Iraq, has left Moore stunned. It also left his back pierced by 150 pieces of shrapnel – bullet fragments, pieces of Humvee armor, he isn't sure exactly what.
"It was like John Wayne stuff," Moore said Monday. "It was crazy."
Pain, blood loss and the chaos of combat have blurred the details. But Moore, who on Tuesday received the Purple Heart medal for his injuries, remembers his company was attacked by insurgents hiding in a van, a building and in canals along the side of the road on which his platoon was traveling.
Moore serves with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. A dozen other 4th Infantry soldiers received Purple Heart medals along with Moore on Tuesday in a ceremony at Fort Hood.
Thinking back to the day of the attack, Moore remembered more about the courage of his fellow soldiers than what happened to him – though he wasn't shy about showing off the purple pock marks and 4-inch scar along his lower back.
"You always talk about being brave," Moore said. "You see movies and think, Would I be like that in combat?' You think about fighting for your country or your president or your family. But when it comes down to it, no, you're not. You're fighting for the guy next to you."
The bond of soldiers also affected four of the Purple Heart recipients who waited until they all were well enough to travel to Fort Hood and receive their medals at the same time.
Sgt. Antonio Autrey, Sgt. Michael Hall, Spc. Joshua Cason and Spc. Andrew Holan were injured April 20 after their Bradley fighting vehicle struck a roadside bomb and caught fire.
"We were all hurt together, so we want to get our awards together," Hall said. "You don't ever leave your buddy. That's how it works."
The soldiers serve in Bravo Troop, 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. Their friend, Sgt. Brandon Teeters – their voice of unity who always stressed the importance of working as a team – did not survive the attack.
"Not having Sergeant Teeters there will be pretty emotional for a few," Hall predicted Monday. "With him being as close as he was with us, knowing he was there with us that day, and he's not standing there, that's pretty emotional, pretty dramatic.
"But, it's not like he's forgotten," Hall continued. "He's just not there. ... We'll see him on the other side."
Hall and the other Bravo Troop soldiers traveled to Fort Hood for the ceremony from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where they undergo physical therapy for the serious burns they received in the fire.
Soldiers from Moore's platoon also are recovering at the medical center. He has stopped by to visit his lieutenant a couple of times and is encouraged by his attitude.
Moore remembers his own recovery from an eight-hour surgery to remove shrapnel. One large piece remains near his spine because it was too large to remove without complications.
"That's a war trophy," Moore said with a smile.
After his surgery, Moore had received pain medication and was asked if he was feeling up to having a visitor. The amiable soldier was, and his battalion commander walked in. But that wasn't his visitor.
Then his brigade commander popped in, and that wasn't his visitor either.
Then Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq, walked in. Even he wasn't the visitor about whom Moore was asked.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was greeting troops in Iraq and wanted to see Moore.
"He was a really nice man," Moore, 25, said. "You could tell by the way he talked that he really cares. He was very pleasant and understands the sacrifice. I think a lot of leadership see soldiers as a number. But he understood this is a soldier, and he has a family."
Moore plans to be married next year. But his fiancee and his blood relatives aren't necessarily the first people who pop into Moore's mind when he thinks about family.
When asked Monday whether his family will come to Fort Hood for the Purple Heart ceremony, he immediately responded with "my platoon sergeant and my best friend from the unit are going to be there."
His platoon sergeant, whom Moore said "deserves medals upon medals" for being a model soldier, was home on mid-tour rest and recuperation leave in time for the ceremony.
Other soldiers who received medals Tuesday were Pvt. Calvin Davis Jr. of the 1st Brigade; Spc. Zachary Hardy, Sgt. Mitchel Mathis, Spc. Toby Colon and 1st Lt. Jon Schaeffer of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team; and Spc. Jason Harvey, Sgt. Ezequiel Hernandez Jr. and Spc. Kenneth Snipes of the 4th Brigade.
The 4th Infantry also honored outstanding volunteers of the month during the ceremony.
Receiving recognition were Brianna Mello, Stacy Joseph and Amanda Cuiksa of the 1st Brigade; Amber Baker, Julia Aceves and Laura Valle of the 2nd Brigade; Anne Crofford, Sarah Soyka and Melissa Collins of the 4th Brigade; Angela Caballero, Mollie Miller and Christine Revels of the Combat Aviation Brigade; Andrea Wells, Laura Mewes and D'Ana Ervin of the Fires Brigade; Carlos Orta, Shawna Reed and Angela Torres of the Sustainment Brigade; Tanja Britton, Jennifer Kuster and Vanessa Witherill of the Special Troops Battalion; Mary Hall of the 502nd Personnel Services Battalion and Judy Hay of the 230th Finance Battalion.
Contact Emily Baker at email@example.com