Wounded Warrior Earns Purple Heart and Heads Home

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2007 - Purple Heart recipient Spc. Joseph D. Bacani will embark on 45 days of much-deserved convalescent leave in his hometown of Tustin, Calif., tomorrow, but he says he'd rather be elsewhere.

"I wish I was still in Iraq with my scout brothers," Bacani said today onstage here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center's Joel Auditorium after being pinned with a Purple Heart medal.

Bacani was a cavalry scout assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, from of Fort Hood, Texas, when he was wounded March 20 during a sniper attack while conducting an IED reconnaissance mission in southwest Baghdad.

"I was shot in the tailbone and it came out of my pelvis," said Bacani, who now sits in a wheelchair. Doctors are optimistic Bacani will be fully mobile again, he said.

Bacani said courage he displayed during combat and his subsequent recovery, came from "being around his brothers."

"The courage is contagious," he said. "If somebody is being strong it will spread throughout the whole platoon.

"We trained for Iraq together for a whole year," he said. "Once we arrived in Iraq, we struggled through multiple (improvised explosive devices) and losses of the lives of our friends," Bacani told American Forces Press Service. "There's no word to explain how strong that bond is."

The Purple Heart, awarded to U.S. servicemembers wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy, is one of the most recognized and respected military decorations. Bacani also received the Combat Action Badge today, which is awarded for actively engaging, or being engaged by, enemy forces.

On hand to see Bacani receive his decorations were his parents, Noberto and Rosita, and his sister Jacquie.

"I can't tell you how much it means to me that he has come home," Jacquie said. "He's one of the lucky ones."

Jacquie said that during Joseph's deployment, she and her parents, Noberto and Rosita, got on their knees and prayed for Bacani's safety every night. "I know that not a lot of people are able to come home, and I'm just so grateful," Jacquie said as she sat next to her brother.

"I'm proud of him," she said about seeing her brother earn the Purple Heart. "It's a mixed blessing, but I really value that they recognize my brother ... for what he's done for his country. It's really his courage that has earned it."

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