Face of Defense: Soldier Gives Purple Heart Medal to Father
By Air Force 2nd Lt. Chase P. McFarland
Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2010 Some sons bond with their fathers by going fishing. But few will ever share the special kind of bond that comes from pinning on Purple Heart medal onto their father in a combat zone.
Army Pvt. Kevin Nieves right, a member of the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team security forces, pins the Purple Heart medal on his father, Army Staff Sgt. Brian Willette, Company F, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam in Laghman province, Afghanistan, Oct. 28. Willette earned his Purple Heart when his truck hit an improvised explosive device during one of his regular missions. Father and son hail from Springfield, Mass. Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Ronifel S. Yasay
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Staff Sgt. Brian Willette, Company F, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, had the chance of a lifetime to have his son, Army Pvt. Kevin Nieves, Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team security forces member, pin on his Purple Heart during a ceremony on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam here Oct. 28.
“I was so proud and honored to have been here for my dad to award him his Purple Heart,” said Nieves, who hails from Springfield, Mass. Willette, also from Springfield, earned his Purple Heart when his truck was hit by an improvised explosive device during one of his regular missions.
Willette was finishing his nine-month tour at FOB Mehtar Lam as Nieves was gearing up to start his time at the same base, allowing them the opportunity to spend some quality father-son time for a few days.
Nieves joined the Army 16 years after his father and had the privilege of his father coming home during leave to put on his blue infantryman cord at basic training.
“I saw how honored and proud my father was to be in the Army and how he would carry himself, and I decided that, that is what I want to be like, that’s what I want for myself, to live out the Army values, just as my dad does,” said 19-year-old Nieves.
Willette’s daughter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Christine Willette serves with the 104th Fire Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
“She was the first of us to have seen indirect fire,” Willette said of his daughter. “Needless to say, we were all a little envious of her.”
Willette said he will be heading back stateside to resume his role as an Army parent.
“I’m glad to be heading home,” he said. “Now I’m just another concerned parent who knows my son will probably be driving over that same spot where my truck got hit many times before he comes home.”