SPC Bair, C/1-279th Bn, 45th IBCT–Purple Heart

Victory Base Complex, Iraq
28 April 2008
Story by SFC Erik Wolf

Oklahoma Soldier Receives Purple Heart

BAGHDAD, Iraq — An awards ceremony was held today in order to recognize members of
Company C, 1st Battalion 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma Army National Guard who have performed with excellence during the Brigade’s current Tour of Duty. Of all the awards and recognitions bestowed this day, a distinct honor was given to Spec. Ryan Bair of Tulsa, OK, recipient of the Purple Heart.

SPC Bair was given the Purple Heart for Injuries he received while conducting a mounted mission in support of detainee operations. SPC Bair was manning the turret in a Humvee during a convoy escort mission when they were attacked by enemy combatants with small arms fire. Blair engaged enemy with his weapon system when he was struck. He fell into the vehicle but quickly regained his senses. He stood back up, manned his weapon system and re-engaged the enemy, suppressing the threat. Spc Bair was treated for his wounds and has made a full recovery.

“It bothered me at first.” Bair said as he recounted the incident, “You always think it’s going to be them, not you. Well, that day it was me.” He continues, “I felt eerie for a few days, it was strange, but I resolved not to be intimidated off my gun so I climbed back up in my turret and continued the mission.”

Bair counts his blessings, “I feel very fortunate and I believe someone was watching over me.”

Lieutenant Colonel Doug Stall, Battalion Commander for the 279th Infantry Regiment, had this to say about Bair. “SPC Bair is a courageous young man. The day after he was released for duty, he went right back into action. He is one of the many heroes in the 45th Brigade Combat Team, which Oklahoma sent to war.”

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first American award made available to the common soldier. It was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington. His keen appreciation for the importance of the common soldier in any campaign compelled him to recognize outstanding valor and merit by awarding the Purple Heart to deserving individuals.

Today, the Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services, has been wounded or killed, or who has died after being wounded.

Brigadier General Hipwell presided over the awards ceremony to personally pin the Purple Heart on SPC Bair. SPC Bair’s commitment to excellence, outstanding performance, and bravery in the face of danger is a credit to himself, his unit, and the U. S. Army National Guard.

BAGHDAD, Iraq. Brig. Gen. Robert Hipwell, commander of the
300th Military Police Brigade, pins the Purple Heart on Spc. Ryan Bair
of C Co. 1-279 IN, 45th IBCT during an awards ceremony on
Victory Base Complex April 28, 2008.

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