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Two Utah Soldiers Receive Purple Heart

Two Utah Soldiers Receive Purple Heart

Posted - Jan. 24, 2004 at 3:16 p.m.



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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Two Utah national guardsmen stationed in Baghdad have been awarded the Purple Heart after both were wounded in separate roadside attacks in Iraq.

Combat engineers Spc. Donald Ferguson, 29, and Spc. Donald Haring, 23, both of Provo, are part of the Utah National Guard's 1457th Engineer Battalion, which was activated January 2003.

Both men were awarded the medals in a ceremony in Baghdad last week after being treated at Army medical facilities. They have since returned to their companies.

Ferguson was traveling in a convoy of about 10 vehicles in Baghdad when the lead Humvee took the brunt of a roadside bomb, badly wounding three soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry. Shrapnel from the explosion broke the windshield of Ferguson's Humvee and Ferguson sustained numerous cuts on his face.

Haring was wounded in the arm and elbow when a roadside bomb hit his convoy in October. The blast also injured several civilians, including a pregnant Iraqi woman, and another American soldier.

"He had tried to help the other soldier and the pregnant woman, and has no idea if either of them lived," said Haring's mother, Debra, of Colombus, Ohio. "He kept telling me how he tried to help."

Haring, who joined the Guard while attending Brigham Young University, was married in December in Salt Lake City during a two-week holiday leave. He had been scheduled to return home last fall before his six-month deployment was extended up to 18 months.

Ferguson, the father of a 2-year-old son, will probably be in Baghdad for his fifth wedding anniversary, said his wife, Kyla.

"I'm proud of my husband's service to our country," she said. "But having him get hurt was scary."

Seven servicemen from Utah or with strong ties to the state have been killed in Kuwait and Iraq since the buildup of American forces in the Persian Gulf.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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