MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
A Buffalo, N.Y., native received the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 2 for wounds sustained while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cpl. Dexter C. Shaw, squad leader, Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for wounds sustained March 23, 2007, while on patrol in Albu Hyatt, Iraq.
Shaw was injured during a security halt while a small forward operating base was being built.
“During a halt, a vehicle was spotted on the road ahead and word was passed that it was fine,” he said. “It turned toward us and we readied our weapons.”
The vehicle came toward them and exploded, throwing shrapnel in all directions.
“When we were hit, I felt something burning on my neck and brushed it off,” Shaw said. “My main goal was to find Heavner.”
Lance Cpl. David Heavner, a machine gunner who was with Shaw that day, walked toward the suspicious vehicle in an effort to stop it and was caught in the explosion.
Shaw diligently looked for his fallen comrades, which is no surprise to Sgt. Donald E. Bradbury, platoon sergeant for the jump team at the time.
“He is what many people look for in a noncommissioned officer,” Bradbury said. “His Marines come first.”
“When the explosion hit, everything seemed to go out of control,” Shaw remarked. “Everyone was trying to do something.”
One Marine ran into the local battalion aid station to call for help, while Shaw found Heavner on the ground and shouted for a corpsman.
A medical evacuation was then called and the injured Marines were airlifted out soon after.
Shaw’s injuries consisted of shrapnel wounds and burns to his face and legs.
After receiving the medal, Shaw remains proud.
“I am proud of receiving it, but it certainly wasn’t anything I wanted,” he said. “It was better to happen to me than another one of my Marines.”