CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- “Duck.” That’s what Gunnery Sgt. Easton’s family told him when he left for Iraq the second time.
Gunnery Sgt. William Easton, staff non commissioned officer-in-charge of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance’s detachment to the division commander’s personal security detachment, received a Purple Heart, April 8, for an injury he sustained from a roadside explosion.
An improvised explosive device (IED), used by insurgents as a way to inflict damage from a distance, rocked through two convoys as they passed one another in opposite directions on a dirt road near the base, March 13. Easton and his team were providing security on the road from within their Light Armored Vehicles and Humvees.
Thanks to their heavy armor and new individual combat protective gear, he and his team were only minimally injured, according to Easton.
“It felt like Hank Aaron hitting his 715th homerun when I got hit,” Odenton, Md. native said in jest.
Easton suffered a laceration on his cheek and a baseball-sized bruise on his ribs, while one of his Marines sustained more threatening wounds. Immediately, Easton tended to his Marine and continued his security mission
“As soon as the other convoy was alongside of us, the trigger man saw his opportunity and set the bomb off,” said the 40-year-old Easton. “We just reverted to our training and handled the situation. The most important thing was taking care of the other guys who were hurt more badly than I was.”
When Easton called home for the first time after his incident, he had some explaining to do.
“I got on the phone with my wife and told her ‘Honey, I got blown up,’” said Easton. “It took about five to ten minutes to cool her down so I told her a funny story about what happened.”
Before the security convoy was interrupted by the blast, Easton had planned to buy a Marines t-shirt for his grandson from the base exchange across the Euphrates River.
“I told her he wasn’t getting the shirt anytime soon and she cracked up laughing,” said Easton.
For now, Easton will continue leading his Marines in security missions to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. His status as a Purple Heart recipient will be an heirloom for his grandson, much like the medal passed on Easton by his father.
“My father earned the Purple Heart in Vietnam,” said Easton. “Like father, like son.”