"The Bullet Magnet" receives 4th Purple Heart
Staff Sgt. Brandon Camacho, 22, shows off his 10th Mountain Division patch that was pierced by a bullet in a near miss in April. A month later, the squad leader with the 1st Batallion, 32nd Infantry Regiment,was shot in the same arm, earning him a fourth Purple Heart for combat wounds. Photo and story Dianna Cahn / S&S.[The bullet] tore a hole through his 10th Mountain Division patch and through a pack of cigarettes in his arm pocket, destroying all but one.
“So I pulled it out and had myself a cigarette.”
- SSG Brandon Camacho
On September 8, he made it five. (And to be honest, when I first heard about this, I thought it was a reference to the older August story. I just couldn't believe it had happened again and was thinking, 'didn't I just write about this guy??' )
Staff Sgt. Brandon Camacho, 24, of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Camacho, who also served in Iraq, is on his second tour in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment. Photo: Gaskell/News.
'Bullet Magnet'-Sgt. Camacho has earned 5 Purple Hearts in 5 years
BY Stephanie Gaskell In Afghanistan
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, September 13th 2009, 4:00 AM
Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan - The soldiers in his New York-based combat unit call Staff Sgt. Brandon Camacho the "Bullet Magnet."
Camacho - either the luckiest or unluckiest soldier in Afghanistan - is on his second tour here with the Fort Drum-based 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
The reason for the nickname: He's just earned his fifth Purple Heart after being shot in the left knee in a firefight 100 miles south of Kabul, military officials said.
"One of my friends said, 'You're the luckiest unlucky person I know,'" said Camacho, 24, who grew up in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. "I don't know what to make of it."
Camacho's first Purple Heart came in 2004, after he was hit by shrapnel in the left knee when a mortar round hit his outpost in Iraq.
His second was earned two years later in Afghanistan. A bullet grazed his left knuckles as he peeked around a corner during a firefight. A few months later, he was hit in the left shoulder by a tracer round.
Camacho returned to Afghanistan in December. In May, he was again shot in the left shoulder, just inches from the last shot, during a close-range firefight in a wheat field.
"I lost a lot of blood," he said. "It missed my bone by a half inch."
On Sept. 8, Camacho was out on a recovery mission after two Apaches took out several insurgents who had attacked a local government center.
"We heard voices and I took a peek around the corner and a guy popped out about 5 feet in front of me," he said.
A round ricocheted and hit him in the left knee, not far from his earlier shrapnel wound.
"I don't know why it's always my left side," he said, laughing.
Amazingly, he hopes to come back to his unit before their deployment is over at the end of the year. "I absolutely do not want to go home," he said. "I want to stay and finish it up."
Brandon... Dude... STAY HOME.