After waiting six years, retired Sgt. Jesse Lund, 34, of New Ulm, Minn., received the Purple Heart at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center Dec. 8.
Lund was deployed to Iraq as a member of the 1st Battalion of the 125th Infantry of the Minnesota National Guard. In June 2006, he was the gunner on an armored vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device (IED), killing Sgt. Kyle Miller of Willmar and injuring Lund and others.
According to Lund, he was in the rear truck in the convoy, and someone in one of the vehicles ahead called back a warning of a possible IED.
Then Lund’s truck hit the device, knocking him unconscious.
“Next thing I remember, I was waking up,” he said. “I was inside the vehicle, and there was smoke.”
He suffered a concussion, a puncture to the right knee, hearing loss and lower back injury.
Lund’s Purple Heart application was submitted three times before it went through.
“I am very happy that Sgt. Jesse Lund is finally receiving this award,” Lund’s former company commander Army Maj. David F. Hintgen said in a release. “… Despite the difficulties of the process in awarding this much deserved Purple Heart, I’m grateful to the leaders and public servants who helped me pursue this the past six years.”
“I feel very honored,” Lund said. “I mean it’s not an award that you want to get, but when it’s deserved, it’s deserved.”
Established by George Washington, the Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to service members injured by an enemy instrument of war and posthumously to the next-of-kin of those killed in action.
Lund retired from the military in April, 2011, after about 15 years combined service in the Navy and National Guard.
Lund’s last unit of service was the 134th Brigade Support Battalion, which has a company based in Brooklyn Park.
He recently returned to his home town of New Ulm, where he lives with his wife, Darcy, and his three children, Kadence, 7, Ethan, 4, and Jaxon, 2 months.