MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Purple Heart medal has been awarded to service members and civilians since 1932 for wounds received in action against enemies of the United States and its allies.
On April 6, Cpl. Christopher Grubb, a Marine with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, joined the estimated 1.7 million men and women who have received the medal.
The original Purple Heart medal was established by Gen. George Washington at Newburgh, N.Y., as the Badge of Military Merit, on Aug. 7, 1782. It was awarded to three soldiers during the American Revolutionary War.
On Sept. 1, 2006, Grubb, a squad leader with 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines, led his squad on a combat patrol. One of Grubb’s fire team leaders, Lance Cpl. Cliff Golla, stepped on a pressure-plate, setting off an improvised explosive device. The blast killed Golla and severely injured three other Marines, including Grubb.
“We had just left the observation post,” Grubb, a Piketon, Ohio, native, recalled. “We were a kilometer away from the observation post when the IED went off.”
At first Grubb didn’t realize how the blast affected him.
“I didn’t hear the blast,” explained Grubb, who was knocked off his feet by the blast thirty meters from him. “I went to wipe my head and saw I was bleeding. I tried to get up but I couldn’t.”
Grubb’s skull was fractured and his jaw was broken. He suffered a concussion and his left eardrum was busted. The left side of his face suffered nerve damage, which he still lives with.
Marines at the observation post saw the attack and moved into action, sending out a quick reaction force. Grubb and the other injured Marines were medically evacuated to Taqaddum, Iraq.
“All they did at TQ was change out my bandages and get me ready to fly to Balad,” said the 2003 Paint Valley High School graduate explaining how serious his injuries were. “When I got to Balad, I was immediately admitted to surgery.”
Grubb spent a few days at Balad to begin the healing process. He flew to Germany for another surgery where he spent a week being treated and monitored. He was then flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a third surgery. Grubb began recovering again and went on convalescent leave to heal.
Lt. Col. Todd Desgrosseilliers, commanding officer of the battalion, presented the award to Grubb during a ceremony in front the battalion.
“It’s an honor to give any Marine an award,” Desgrosseilliers said after the ceremony. “I’m always glad to present a Purple Heart to a Marine, because it means they’re still with us.”
Grubb said the attack has not affected his career plans, and he is in the process of reenlisting.
“It’s not something I tried for,” said Grubb, a husband and a father of four. “It’s an honorable award, but not one I was expecting.”