Purple Hearts Awarded Aboard USNS Comfort
by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet Public Affairs
Navy News Service
March 31, 2003

BAHRAIN -- Nine Marines were awarded the Purple Heart March 30 aboard USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Commander Lt. Gen. Earl B. Hailston came aboard to present the decoration personally to each Marine.

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the armed forces who, while serving, has been wounded or killed. The Marines on Comfort were among the first to receive the award in recognition of their actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Five Marines are from the 2nd Force Service Support Group (FSSG) 1st Battalion Charlie Company. They are Pvt. Jason Keough from Buffalo, N.Y.; Sgt. Jose Torres of Lorain, Ohio; Cpl. Jacob Hobkins from Columbus, Ind; Cpl. Michael Mead of Newberry, Mich.; and Cpl. Manuel Espinoza of Weslaco, Texas.

Other Marines awarded the Purple Heart include Gunnery Sgt. Robert Hladik, Headquarters, Camp Pendleton, from Hemet, Calif.; Capt. Harry Porter, 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines, of West Chester, Pa.; Pvt. 1st Class Brian Nickes, 1st Marine Division 2nd Battalion, of Camben, N.J.; and Staff Sgt. David Oravecz, Marine Light-Armored Helicopter Squadron 269, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion, from Hubert, Fla.