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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Juan Valentin
Airman Receives Purple Heart
by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
43rd Airlift Wing Publice Affairs
POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C., Dec. 4, 2006 — A tactical air control party airman from Pope AFB's 17th Air Support Operations Squadron was awarded the Purple Heart in a presentation ceremony Nov. 30 here.

Tech. Sgt. Juan Valentin was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds received in action Oct. 28 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Valentin was providing security as a combat reconnaissance patrol overlooking a village in Afghanistan. A vehicle pulled up next to Valentin and was hit by an improvised explosive device. Valentin was thrown about 15 feet from his vehicle and injured his head. Army Sgt. Kyu Choy was killed in action and six others were wounded.

"The Purple Heart is not as much for me as it is for Sgt. Choy, Senior Airman Adam Servais and Army Sgt. Eric Caban who can't be with us today," said Valentin.

Servais and Caban were close friends of Valentin who died in combat during his time in Afghanistan.

"It's an honor and privilege to serve with these top-notch people. We are the only source of fire support for ground troops, and if I could go back today (to Afghanistan) I would," said Valentin.

A prior supply airman, Valentin said he retrained into the tactical air control career field because he felt he would have a more direct impact on the mission; special operations being his favorite part.

"I decided to cross train in 1998 and have never looked back," said Valentin. "I like working in small teams in combat operations and having a direct impact on the mission."

"He's the hardest working airman, very innovative and is a wealth of knowledge. I'm extremely impressed with how fast he his recovering from his injuries," said Capt. Brian Bragg, the 17th ASOS and Operating Location Bravo commander.

Valentin, along with Airmen from the 17th ASOS, support the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st and 3rd Battalion, the 3rd and 7th Special Forces Group, the 5th Special Forces Group and Army Special Operations Command.

The Purple Heart was awarded to Valetin by Brig. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, the 9th Air Force vice commander. The medal is awarded in the name of the president of the United States to any member of an armed forces or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the armed services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded.

Last Updated:
12/05/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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