By Spc. Megan V. Zander, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – During a formal ceremony, four Louisiana National Guardsmen were presented the Purple Heart combat decoration in Fleming Hall at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Nov. 1.
Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general of the LANG, told family and friends in attendance, “If you’ve never looked at a hero, there are four of them right here,” motioning to the recipients.
Spc. Stephen E. Griffin of Morgan City was injured when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device, May 19, 2013. 1st Lt. Lance B. MacAlester of New Orleans, Staff Sgt. Alfredo M. Bautista of New Orleans, Spc. Tylor N. Burns-Muller of Denham Springs, were injured when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device, June 20.
All four Guardsmen were members of the 1084th Transportation Company, 157th Combat Sustainment Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade Afghanistan, Louisiana Army National Guard, serving on a combat escort team.
Addressing family and friends, Burns-Muller, who served as the gunner of his vehicle for his unit, spoke highly of his fellow award recipient.
“Staff Sgt. Bautista, who was my truck commander and mentor, helped to make sure all of us came home safe. He told me I was the best, so I felt like the best,” said Burns-Muller. “So when something happened, I reacted like the best.”
The Purple Heart is an American decoration, 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. The United States War Department revived the Purple Heart decoration on Feb. 22, 1932.
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in actions. It is specifically a combat decoration.