Arizona Guard Soldier receives Purple Heart

Arizona Guard Soldier receives Purple Heart

Brig. Gen. William Hall, land component commander for the Arizona Army National Guard, presents Sgt. 1st Class Jasen Barcklay with the Purple Heart during a ceremony at Papago Park Military Reservation Nov. 16. Barcklay received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in 2005 after his convoy was attacked by insurgents in the Abu Ghraib District of Iraq. (National Guard photo by Army Sgt. Ryan Scott)

PHOENIX – Family, friends, civic leaders and service members gathered at a ceremony to witness a Soldier receive the Purple Heart medal at the Howard Paul Allen Readiness Center at Papago Military Reservation here, Nov. 16.

Army Brig. Gen. William Hall, the land component commander for the Arizona Army National Guard, presented the award to Sgt. 1st Class Jasen Barcklay, a member of the 860th Military Police Company.

“It’s an honor for me, as a combat veteran who traveled the same area of Iraq around the same time as this Soldier, to now present this award to him,” Hall said. “We appreciate that he has continued to serve in the Guard honorably to this day.”

While deployed with the 1st Platoon, of the 860th MP Co., and assigned to 42nd Military Police Brigade in Baghdad, Iraq, Barcklay was injured during a patrol with his squad in Al Risallah, Abu Ghraib District, Sept. 2, 2005. Enemy forces attacked his patrol in a complex ambush initiated by vehicle born improvised explosive device on his vehicle.

The VBIED exploded approximately 25 feet from the right side of his vehicle. The attack on the convoy continued from multiple enemy locations with machine gun fire, sniper fire and rocket propelled grenades.

His squad responded and repelled the ambush.

“I suffered a significant concussion from the initial VBIED blast,” Barcklay said. “Luckily, no other Soldiers from our squad received any major injuries as a result of the attack.”

All members of his squad received the Combat Action Badge and two of the squad’s gunners received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor device as a result of their actions during this incident.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the Purple Heart award,” Barcklay said. “I have such a high regard for others who have received the Purple Heart and – along with the history and meaning of the award – to be one of those recipients is truly a great honor.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use. It was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington. The United States War Department revived the Purple Heart decoration on Feb. 22, 1932.

Today, the Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in actions.

Since returning home from his deployment, Barcklay honors other returning veterans by volunteering with Operation Welcome Home, a program through the Town of Gilbert to provide a hero’s welcome to veterans and their families. The council honors these individuals with a proclamation presented at a formal council meeting in appreciation of their commitment to service.

“I was ‘Welcomed Home’ by the Town of Gilbert at their second event in January 2011 after returning from my second deployment to Iraq in 2009-2010,” said Barcklay. “I was very moved by the significance of the event; to see an entire community come together to recognize and show their appreciation and gratitude to returning service members.”

Barcklay immediately joined the Operation Welcome Home committee to continue to help ensure that all service members that are residents of Gilbert returning from a deployment also receive a proper “Welcome Home.”

“In the past three and half years we have been able to conduct numerous events in Gilbert that have recognized over twenty service members from almost all the branches of service,” Barcklay said.

He is also working with the Town of Gilbert in assisting other municipalities with starting their own Operation Welcome Home to recognize service members in their city who also have recently returned from deployment.