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Minnesota National Guard
Clark honored with Purple Heart

One day after his 23rd birthday, Fergus Falls native and National Guard Specialist Kristopher Clark received the Purple Heart before a group of family and friends, parents and relatives of others Soldiers, military dignitaries, civic leaders and Minnesota US Sen Norm Coleman Saturday morning at the National Guard Armory in Moorhead

Clark received the medal after being wounded in Iraq Sept 2, 2006 His left foot was severely injured by shrapnel after an improvised explosive device detonated under his Humvee while he was on patrol in the Anbar region of Iraq

The Fergus Falls National Guard Soldier, a calvary scout who is part of the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry, said he felt humbled to receive the award Like so many of his comrades, he said uppermost in his mind are his fellow Soldiers still serving in Iraq

"Kristopher is a very special young man who has sacrificed unselfishly for his country," family friend the Rev Noel Rich said

Rich formerly served at St James Episcopal Church in Fergus Falls, where Kristopher and his parents, Bruce and Judy, are members Rich and his wife, Ginger, now live in Alexandria A military veteran who served in Vietnam, Rich is a chaplain for Alexandria VFW Post 936

"I'm proud of Kristopher receiving the Purple Heart but this also brings back the emotion of why he received this high military honor in the first place," his father said after the ceremony "I was surprised and honored to be asked by the commanding general to pin the Purple Heart on my son's uniform"

Clark joined the Fergus Falls National Guard Nov 15, 2001 His service in Iraq was his second tour of duty overseas He formerly served in Bosnia with fellow members of the Fergus Falls National Guard, including Staff Sgt Mark Sjostrom who he now works for at the Fergus Falls National Guard Armory

After sustaining his wounds Clark had surgery in Iraq before two more surgeries were performed at a US military hospital in Germany The arch of his left foot was severely injured, requiring months of rehabilitation

He also sees specialists periodically at University Hospitals in Minneapolis Doctors have found more cracked bones in his foot and there may be other damage not yet found Clark's treatment is ongoing and he may need additional surgery to alleviate the pain and correct the damage to his foot

Eventually, the Soldier plans to pursue computer programming at MSCTC, Moorhead In the meantime, he's proud to continue being a member of the Fergus Falls National Guard and assisting Sjostrom at the National Guard Armory in Fergus Falls

"Kristopher and his parents are special people, and my wife, Laurie and I felt honored to be able to attend the Purple Heart ceremony in Moorhead," Clark family friend Bob Hansen said

By Tom Hintgen
March 19, 2007

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