CAMP HURRICANE POINT, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- August 2 was a big day for Joseph P. Nagel as he had medals pinned to his chest and an extra chevron added to his collar.
The 22-year-old from Dousman, Wis., received two Purple Hearts and was meritoriously promoted to the rank of corporal during a ceremony here at 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment’s forward operating base.
“I’m proud of myself,” said Nagel, who’s a machine gunner with 4th Platoon, Company W. “One of my goals was to pick up corporal while I was out here, and I accomplished that.”
Nagel competed against several other Marines for the promotion in a combat meritorious corporal board that was held by 2nd Marine Division, according to 1st Sgt. Dwayne W. Farr, Company W’s first sergeant.
Farr said Nagel took the board because he possessed the qualities of a noncommissioned officer.
“He was a corporal running around in a lance corporal’s body,” said Farr after Nagel’s ceremony. “He’s got that ‘follow me’ attitude. He doesn’t stand back and wait to be told something but, instead, has already got things figured out and accomplished. He’s got great potential, so it only made sense that he be promoted.”
Farr said in addition to Nagel’s initiative, his Service Record Book, being heavy with accomplishments, helped him secure the promotion. Nagel has a high, first class physical fitness test, an expert rifle qualification and completed numerous Marine Corps Institute tests.
“He conducts himself well,” said Farr. “He really steps out. Maybe he stepped out two times two many because he’s got two Purple Hearts now.”
Nagel was awarded the Purple Hearts for wounds he received June 15 and July 1 while conducting security and stability operations with his fellow Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was riding in the turret of a humvee manning a MK-19 Grenade Launcher during both close calls.
“We were providing a screen for another company and started taking small arms fire from behind us,” recalled the 2002 Johnson Creek High School graduate. “I swung the turret around and as soon as I started laying down fire I felt something hit my left forearm. I knew I was hit.”
An enemy round ricocheted off the turret’s armor plate and caught Nagel’s inner forearm. It didn’t stop him from fighting, though.
“I kept shooting because it wasn’t enough to prevent me from doing my job,” he said.
Nagel’s flesh wound was treated by corpsmen at 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ Battalion Aid Station.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Nagel of his injury. “They dug out the shrapnel, patched me up and I went back to work.”
Nagel immediately returned to full duty and continued fighting terrorism on Ramadi’s urban battlefield only to be wounded again less than a month later. The episode was ironic to Nagel.
“We were escorting (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) to stop an (improvised explosive device),” he explained. “On our way I saw something on the road that looked like it could be an IED. While I was thinking to myself, ‘That’s an IED,’ boom, it went off and shrapnel hit my left hand.’”
Again, the wound was minor, and Nagel received care at the BAS.
Nagel is a two-time veteran of the fighting in Iraq. He was with the infantry battalion last year for OIF during Falluja’s fray. He made it out unscathed.
Regarding his Purple Hearts, Nagel remains modest.
“I was just doing my job and I got wounded,” he said. “Any other Marine would’ve done the same thing.”
Nagel plans to leave the Corps with an honorable discharge in December 2006 to pursue a college degree with hopes of someday directing movies.
“I want to go to college in California because Hollywood is there, and it’s the best place to do it,” he said. “I hope to direct movies that people will go to the theaters and watch.”