MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A Memphis, Tenn. native was awarded the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 16 for wounds received during combat operations in Iraq.
Twenty-five-year old Lance Cpl. Josh Barrett, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s Surveillance, Target and Acquisition (STA) Platoon, and several of his teammates had been conducting counterinsurgency operations outside Fallujah in July at the time of the incident.
“It happened around 11:30 (PM), while we were on a mission to insert sniper teams to be used for counter-IED (improvised explosive device) operations,” the 2003 Ole Miss’ University graduate said, explaining how the Marine teams he was helping to covertly place would watch for insurgents placing roadside bombs along a frequently transited road. “I was driving the truck that hit the IED that night.”
Barrett recalled his friends riding in the truck behind him saying they had seen “nothing but a fireball and smoke” where his truck had been before.
“The blast blew out both of my eardrums and gave me a concussion,” Barrett continued. “One piece of shrapnel stuck in the vehicle’s armor plate beside my Kevlar (helmet). It somehow managed to miss me and stick right next to my head.”
Barrett claimed he could only hear a ringing noise for the first month following the attack, and that blood would stain his pillow after a night of sleeping on his side.
Despite this, he said he was anxious to return to duty quickly, because he realized how valuable even one man is for a close-knit team of snipers to accomplish their mission.
Barrett is currently recovering from his injuries and awaiting further surgery to repair his still-damaged eardrums. He said he feels he has healed well thus far, but has lost forty percent hearing in his right ear.
“I still don’t think that’s a big enough reason to get a Purple Heart for,” Barrett casually stated. “I mean, you can blow out an eardrum just playing football or shooting a rifle on a range. I didn’t want to receive the Purple Heart, because I know there are guys out there that have blown limbs off that deserve it a lot more.”
Barrett now plans to attend the Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper Basic Course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.