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Photo Information

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq - Brigadier Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, assistant division commander for 2nd Marine Division, awards Cpl. Justin Harris, a 23-year-old light armored vehicle technician with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance, with a Purple Heart, April 8, for injuries he received from a roadside explosion. An improvised explosive device (IED), used by insurgents as a way to inflict collateral 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. Harris and his team were providing security on the road from within their Light Armored vehicles and Humvees. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio (RELEASED)

Photo by Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

Purple Heart recipient back in the fight

26 Apr 2005 | Sgt. Stephen D'Alessio

Corporal Justin Harris, a 23-year-old light armored vehicle technician with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion 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.  Harris 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 the Ross, Ohio native.

“Honestly, it felt like I was punched in the neck,” said the 2001 Ross High School graduate.  “I felt around for any pain and when I looked down, all I saw was blood on my flak jacket.”

Harris suffered a laceration on his neck and received immediate help from another Marine who bandaged him.

“The warrant officer riding in the vehicle patched me up, and I started to get dizzy,” said Harris.

When Harris called home for the first time after the incident, his mother wasn’t ready for the news.  According to Harris, he had to come up with some special tactics of his own to put her at ease.

“I had to calm her down, so I told her I have a desk job,” said Harris.  “She knew I was joking and things lightened up from there.”

Harris plans to go home to some of the local spots at his old stomping ground and reminisce with his fellow service members who fought in The Global War on Terrorism. 

“One of my buddies at home received a Purple Heart too, and now we can both relate,” said Harris.  “In some ways, I’m actually kind of proud to get one.”