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Minnesota National Guard
Two Purple Hearts

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq " Sgt Scott Stroud has relatives that fought for both sides in the Civil War, another relative who "hit the beach" in the Battle of Normandy during World War II, and an uncle who served three tours as an infantryman in Vietnam

So it should be so surprise that this Dalton, Minn, resident and a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard's Company B, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, would make history while deployed in Iraq

He is the only Soldier of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, to earn two Purple Hearts as of March 1, 2007 Since 1917, the Purple Heart has been awarded in the name of the President of the United States to Soldiers who have been wounded or killed in war

In 2002 and at age 39, he also volunteered to rejoin the Guard after the 9-11 terrorists attacks He had been honorably discharged from the Army Reserve in 1987
"This time I did it for whatever help I could do," said Stroud of his reason for re-joining the Guard

When he earned his first Purple Heart on May 15, this locomotive engineer for the last 13 years was "doing whatever he could"

He was driving the lead Humvee of a patrol when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb It was Stroud's third time behind the wheel He estimated he was going 15 mph when disaster struck

"At the last instant there was a couple guys in the vehicle that said "˜I thought I saw something!' but it was absolutely too late," said Stroud "I felt that there was something that I saw out of the corner of my eye too I thought I saw something black on the road but there was no time to register It was after the fact"

The black object was hiding four 120 millimeter mortar rounds

"All of sudden it was just boom! Complete blackness Choking The smell of sulfur was so strong It was unbelievable You couldn't see your hand in front of your face," he said "I knew that we were in the air but at the same time you don't know how high"

He said once the Humvee landed, he could feel it sliding to the left The Humvee slid several feet as its left tire folded underneath the fender The blast demolished the Humvee's front end and blew the right tire into a field several hundred meters away

When his Humvee came to a rest, Stroud and his truck commander, Sgt Matthew Bye, also of Dalton, suffered the worst injuries Bye, sitting in the front passenger seat, had a broken leg and shrapnel wounds that required surgery Stroud's injuries included cuts on his legs from shrapnel and a badly sprained right foot

Bye, who is now at home and out of the Guard, was removed from the Humvee by two Soldiers reaching through the Humvee's firewall and pushing his legs through as other Soldiers pulled him from the passenger compartment

Stroud, who got out of his vehicle on his own free will, said the first thing he heard when he got out of the Humvee was the left tire was leaking air

He said he thought to himself -- not fathoming the situation fully -- that the Humvee is "probably disabled"

He was told to get away from the vehicle and into a secure area But he said he began retrieving sensitive items like their night vision goggles and radio parts as a matter of routine

He said his fellow Soldiers kept yelling at him to stay off his injured foot At about the same time, Stroud said he noticed that his Humvee's 50-caliber machine gun was blown off its turret mount and lying several feet away

Knowing that there was still a round in the chamber, Stroud crawled to the gun to remove the round He said he wrapped both of his legs around the weapon and pulled the bolt back to eject the shell The shell landed in his hand

He said when fellow Soldiers attempted to pull the bolt back; two Soldiers struggled to do it

"And I did it with one hand," said Stroud "I didn't realize that I was so scared"

When Stroud and Bye arrived at the camp's hospital they also "scared" their fellow Soldiers Their face and skin was black from the soot

"All you could see was our white eyes," he said

Stroud returned to duty in 24 hours

Less than two months later, he would get hit by another bomb

Returning to the camp on June 23 from a patrol from Habbiniyah, Stroud was the lead Humvee's gunner

"I looked right at it as it went off I didn't see it," he said "I was just doing my scanning looking back and forth and this thing went off in my face"

Stroud suffered ruptured and bleeding eardrums despite wearing an ear plug in one ear and his radio headset in the other, and 10 small pieces of shrapnel in his cheek His new goggles, issued to him the day before, absorbed several small pieces of shrapnel The goggles felt cover, which was on the back of his helmet, has two large holes in it from shrapnel There also is one noticeable chip in the goggles glass He still wears these goggles to this day

Stroud said he was hit by top edge of the blast as both of the Humvee's right side bulletproof windows were shattered and it had shrapnel damage on its side The bomb, two 120 millimeter artillery rounds buried under the shoulder, also disabled the vehicle by cutting the oil cooling line for the transmission

The bomb's wires were traced to a mosque about 1,000 meters away Stroud said he stayed in the turret to provide security for fellow Soldiers who traced the wire He was hoping to get an opportunity to get the insurgent who detonated the bomb The Soldiers traced the wires around the compound, following them to another mosque about 800 meters away They did not find the triggerman

So far, Stroud's squad has hit six roadside bombs and found five

As he said, "We find them here and there but you know you're not going to see every one"

By Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood
1/34 Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Feb 9, Two Purple Hearts photo gallery

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