FORT WORTH, Texas - Medically Retired Corporal Joshua D. Carpenter received a Purple Heart Medal Sept. 28, 2013, at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.
The award comes almost 10 years after Carpenter, an infantry rifleman with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, sustained an eye injury while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom II in Fallujah, Iraq in April 2004.
“I guess this whole (experience) is kind of melancholy for me because I’m happy I have it, but I’m sad that I rate it,” said the Duncanville, Texas, native.
Marine Aircraft Group 41 opened its doors to friends and family to congratulate Carpenter with a small ceremony at the Navy Operational Support Center on base.
"(I think) God knew ahead of time that this would happen so all of you could be here to enjoy this award with him vice him receiving it in a hospital bed in Iraq,” said Col. Tray Ardese, commanding officer of MAG-41, to the guests of the ceremony.
Master Sergeant Josue Magana, Carpenter’s former squad leader, pinned on the Purple Heart Medal. He played a vital role in making sure Carpenter finally received his award.
Magana said the reason for working so hard to get Carpenter his Purple Heart is simply because of the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis.
“He’s one of my Marines,” Magana said. “We don’t leave a Marine behind and that’s why … it was personal to me. I thought of him being the person that he is and remembered how he helped me through some tough times out there. I just couldn’t let it go.” In 2004, Carpenter’s squad was conducting a security patrol and was positioned in a suspected enemy sniper’s nest. He was on the roof with another Marine when they heard explosions around them, and felt rounds impacting the sides of the building.
“I remember at some point, out of my peripheral, I saw something fall and I lifted my head up to see what looked like a little pear,” Carpenter Said. “It was maybe seven feet in front of me. I ducked my head - I guess not in time - and all I remember is waking up and feeling like I got kicked in the face.”
Carpenter was then evacuated to a nearby facility to receive triage where he first realized the damage his vision suffered.
“All I could see was just the peripheral,” Carpenter said. “It was like there was a hand in front of my eye and all I could see was just the sides.”
Carpenter transferred to a hospital in Baghdad where he underwent exploratory surgery. The surgery revealed a detached retina in is his eye. The damage proved too severe to repair.
When Carpenter’s eye began healing, the scarring peeled the retina further until his vision had diminished greatly. At first, his vision was clear - he could count fingers or recognize colors - but he soon noticed his eyesight was gradually fading.
Carpenter came back to the United States a week later and was eventually medically retired in March 2006.
“Corporal Carpenter helped me out a lot out there and he was my backbone out there when things got rough,” added Magana. “I couldn’t stop until he got his purple heart awarded. It’s something he deserves. (He’s) a true hero and will be my brother forever.”