Face of Defense: Soldier Gives Purple Heart Medal to Father

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2010 — Some sons bond with their fathers by going fish­ing. But few will ever share the spe­cial kind of bond that comes from pin­ning on Pur­ple Heart medal onto their father in a com­bat zone.

Purple Heart medal
Army Pvt. Kevin Nieves right, a mem­ber of the Lagh­man Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team secu­ri­ty forces, pins the Pur­ple Heart medal on his father, Army Staff Sgt. Bri­an Wil­lette, Com­pa­ny F, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 102nd Infantry Reg­i­ment, 1st Brigade Com­bat Team, at For­ward Oper­at­ing Base Mehtar Lam in Lagh­man province, Afghanistan, Oct. 28. Wil­lette earned his Pur­ple Heart when his truck hit an impro­vised explo­sive device dur­ing one of his reg­u­lar mis­sions. Father and son hail from Spring­field, Mass.
Pho­to by Air Force Senior Air­man Ronifel S. Yasay
Click to enlarge

Army Staff Sgt. Bri­an Wil­lette, Com­pa­ny F, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 102nd Infantry Reg­i­ment, 1st Brigade Com­bat Team, had the chance of a life­time to have his son, Army Pvt. Kevin Nieves, Lagh­man Provin­cial Recon­struc­tion Team secu­ri­ty forces mem­ber, pin on his Pur­ple Heart dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny on For­ward Oper­at­ing Base Mehtar Lam here Oct. 28.

“I was so proud and hon­ored to have been here for my dad to award him his Pur­ple Heart,” said Nieves, who hails from Spring­field, Mass. Wil­lette, also from Spring­field, earned his Pur­ple Heart when his truck was hit by an impro­vised explo­sive device dur­ing one of his reg­u­lar mis­sions.

Wil­lette was fin­ish­ing his nine-month tour at FOB Mehtar Lam as Nieves was gear­ing up to start his time at the same base, allow­ing them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend some qual­i­ty father-son time for a few days.

Nieves joined the Army 16 years after his father and had the priv­i­lege of his father com­ing home dur­ing leave to put on his blue infantry­man cord at basic train­ing.

“I saw how hon­ored and proud my father was to be in the Army and how he would car­ry him­self, and I decid­ed that, that is what I want to be like, that’s what I want for myself, to live out the Army val­ues, just as my dad does,” said 19-year-old Nieves.

Willette’s daugh­ter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Chris­tine Wil­lette serves with the 104th Fire Wing of the Mass­a­chu­setts Air Nation­al Guard.

“She was the first of us to have seen indi­rect fire,” Wil­lette said of his daugh­ter. “Need­less to say, we were all a lit­tle envi­ous of her.”

Wil­lette said he will be head­ing back state­side to resume his role as an Army par­ent.

“I’m glad to be head­ing home,” he said. “Now I’m just anoth­er con­cerned par­ent who knows my son will prob­a­bly be dri­ving over that same spot where my truck got hit many times before he comes home.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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