Thursday, April 21, 2011
EOD Sailor Awarded Purple Heart
By Zona T. Lewis, Navy Safe Harbor Public Affairs
BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Sailor was awarded a Purple Heart medal during a ceremony aboard National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, Md., April 19.
Rear Adm. Frank A. Morneau, deputy director for Expeditionary Warfare Division (N85B), presented the Purple Heart to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Todd E. Hammond, in recognition of injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan.
"The selflessness of this wounded warrior and what he has done for this country will never be lost or forgotten," said Morneau. "We know that you are going to continue to serve with the brilliance, the professionalism, the valor, and fidelity which has distinguished your service to our country."
During the ceremony, Hammond was joined by his wife, Christine, their two-year-old daughter, Samantha, and his mother, Janet. Additional relatives and members of his EOD family also attended the event.
Hammond was wounded April 6, by an improvised explosive device. He sustained injuries that required the amputation of his right leg below the knee and severely injured his left leg.
Hammond spoke about the outpour of support he has received since his injury.
"Most people would think that losing a limb wound be a horrible experience, but in some weird way it actually has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," Hammond said.
Hammond is enrolled in Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program, which provides non-medical care to seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families.
"Navigating the waters of recovery following a serious illness or injury often is overwhelming for a service member and his or her caregivers," said Chief Master-at-Arms Master Douglas Garner, a surge team member of the Navy Safe Harbor program at NNMC. "Questions about pay and benefits, travel orders for family members, and employability muddy the waters of the recovery process; and while providing bedside care for their loved-ones, families often don't have the resources or time to manage these concerns. Navy Safe Harbor helps wounded warriors focus on getting well while we strive to handle whatever accompanying non-medical issues may arise."
Hammond said he is anxious to return to his unit.
"I wish more than anything I could be back in Afghanistan right now with my team doing what I am supposed to be doing instead of sitting here," said Hammond, who has served his country for 16 years.
The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration being awarded. Originally called the Badge of Military Merit, it was designed by Gen. George Washington during the American Revolution. Initially, it was only awarded to soldiers serving in the Army. Eventually, President John F. Kennedy extended the medal to cover all service members in all future wars. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan extended eligibility to service members wounded or killed by international terrorists' attacks.