Soldiers receive Purple Hearts at Landstuhl

Story and photo by Sgt. Frank Sanchez III
21st TSC Public Affairs

Two Soldiers from the 563rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., were awarded Purple Hearts at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center April 16.

Brig. Gen. Jon Miller, deputy commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, presented the Purple Hearts to the MP Soldiers for the injuries they sustained from an explosively formed penetrator while serving in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

General Miller stood by the bedside of Spc. Joe Tolentino and Pfc. Rashawn Crawford to present the awards.

“I feel that it is a great honor, but I want to get back to my unit. I just feel very blessed right now.” said Private Crawford about receiving the Purple Heart.
Private Crawford, a native of Niles, Mich., sustained shrapnel wounds to his left leg and a severe concussion to the back of his head from the blast.

Specialist Tolentino sustained a back injury, a fractured left thumb and received shrapnel injuries to the back of his neck. General Miller also spent some time with Pfc. Victoria Montenegro, a combat medic with the 563rd MP Co., who was involved in the explosion with Private Crawford and Specialist Tolentino.

Private Montenegro received her Purple Heart for injuries she sustained to her right eye and a broken left arm, which she received during the blast.

“It doesn’t feel real, and I haven’t even realized that yet,” said Private Montenegro, who was almost three months into her deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom when the incident occurred. 

Sgt. Raul Moncada, a team leader from the 563rd MP Co., was killed from wounds sustained in the same explosion that injured Private Montenegro, Specialist Tolentino and Private Crawford. Sergeant Moncada was from Madera, Calif., and is survived by his wife and child.

The three injured Soldiers were sent  to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., the next day for further specialized care.

“It is an honor and privilege to present these awards. These Soldiers are excellent examples of the selflessness of today’s military members. Even as they are receiving medical care, all they spoke of was a desire to get back to their unit and return to the fight,” General Miller said. “I was humbled to be around these examples of selfless service.”