04 September 2012

Critical Care Nurse receives Purple Heart

Brig. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, presents a Purple Heart to Maj. James Webb, a Critical Care nurse assigned to the U.S. Army's 966th Forward Surgical Team, Task Force-Medical Alpha, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Aug. 28, 2012. Webb was serving as part of the medical evacuation crew in the central Ghazni province of Afghanistan when he was shot by an enemy AK-47 while loading a patient aboard his helicopter. Photo: Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Nevison.

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Every day, hundreds of U.S. military nurses work around the clock providing care to wounded warriors operating in Afghanistan. Each of these professionals have memories that stay with them; for U.S. Air Force Maj. James Webb, his experience has given him a new perspective and greater appreciation for his calling.

Webb, a Critical Care Nurse attached to the Army’s 966th Forward Surgical Team with Task Force-Medical Alpha, was shot when his team began taking enemy fire while loading patients onto a UH-60 Black Hawk as part of a MEDEVAC crew in eastern Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2012.

It was because of the incident on that August day in Ghazni province that Webb was awarded the Purple Heart recently at a ceremony at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

Since its inception in 1782 by General George Washington, the Purple Heart remains the oldest award still given to military members, awarded when injured or killed while serving in the line of duty.

After receiving the medal, Webb said he draws strength from the men and women in his unit.

“It’s very inspirational to be around everybody in our crew. I love and believe in the mission,” said Webb.

Webb said he is motivated by the people he works with, but he also wants to deliver that inspiration to the men and women on the ground who need his help.

“It’s important that our guys and girls out there can trust that there are those willing to risk everything to make sure they make it back to their families.”

Maj. Chris Chung, commander of the 101st General Support Aviation Battalion, MEDEVAC Company, and Webb’s commander, says he has high esteem for the efforts of both Webb and his teammates.

“Critical care nurses are the key part of the MEDEVAC team in the amount and the type of care we can provide to the wounded soldier, sailor, airman or Marine on the ground,” said Chung.

Chung said he considers it a privilege to work with an airman like Webb, and admires him for his positive attitude and desire to get back to work.

“I have the greatest respect for him, especially because he is continuing to move forward to rejoin the fight down in Ghazni where he was wounded. That’s admirable.”

Brig. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, was happy to present Webb with his Purple Heart.

“It was an incredible honor to award the Purple Heart to an airman like Maj. James K. Webb. Even more amazing was his desire to quickly recover and get back to his remote outpost in Afghanistan, where he and his teammates put their own lives on the line every day to save and care for others. His selfless devotion in support of our nation’s effort here is an inspiration for all airmen,” said Guastella.

For Webb, receiving the Purple Heart is an experience he never anticipated. And though humbling, he says he just wants to be with his crew again.

“It’s extremely overwhelming, and it’s just great to be part of this organization. I get to be around men and women who put themselves at risk daily for probably the greatest job in the military; helping injured warriors get home,” said Webb.

After being presented with the Purple Heart, Webb was also presented the Air Force Combat Action Medal by the 455 AEW Command Chief, Command Sgt. Marcus Snoddy. The AFCAM is awarded to airmen who have come under direct enemy attack while performing duties.

Webb has made a full recovery and will be returning to Ghazni to resume his duties; helping his fellow wounded warriors.

More photos at the link.

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