Tyndall Airmen receive Purple Hearts

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dustin Mullen
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The uniform worn by military service members represents the willingness to give the ultimate sacrifice for one's country. To wear the uniform is to understand that being thrown into harm's way is a regular possibility. For two Tyndall Airmen, that possibility became a reality.

Technical Sgt. Benjamin Wilhelm, Det. 1, 823rd RED HORSE explosive ordnance disposal contingency instructor, and Staff Sgt. Anthony Cerrone, Det. 1, 823rd RHS explosive ordnance disposal contingency instructor, have lived that possibility multiple times were presented the Purple Heart July 18 for injuries they sustained during combat operations while deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Wilhelm was deployed to Iraq as an EOD team leader in 2008, and Cerrone deployed as an EOD technician to Afghanistan in 2009.

On multiple occasions during their deployments, enemy rockets and improvised explosive devices exploded in very close proximity to Wilhelm and Cerrone, resulting in Traumatic Brain Injury.

"There are so many more deserving military members out there that have sacrificed more than me," said Wilhelm. "I am blessed and honored to even be considered in the same category."

The Purple Heart is awarded for wounds or death as result of an act of any opposing armed force, as a result of an international terrorist attack or as a result of military operations while serving as part of a peacekeeping force, according to the Air Force Personnel Center's website.