Spc. Antony Gaston was awarded the Purple Heart and a commendation for his valorous acts after sustaining injuries from shrapnel, but continuing to fight, during a patrol in the Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.
"I knew I would see combat, but I always thought it would be somebody else who got hurt, not me",
Attacked And Discovered What He’s Made Of
Insurgents attacked Gaston’s patrol with two 82 mm mortar rounds; the first round was ineffective, but the second hit just meters away from him, showering shrapnel in his direction.
"There are a lot of people who go into something like this scared, but when it actually comes down to it, they surprise themselves; there’s a lot of guys who are gung-ho, but when they’re actually put to the test, they freeze, and you never really know until you’re out there".
Gaston Gets Badly Wounded
A golf-ball-sized piece of shrapnel penetrated Gaston’s leg, sending crippling pain throughout his body.
"The stories about the adrenaline making all the pain go away aren’t true; you can still feel it, but you just have to push through it",
With shrapnel tearing at leg apart, Gaston found enough strength to get to his feet and position himself in order to suppress the enemy.
"The first thing I thought was they just shot at me; I need to shoot back. It wasn’t out of anger; I was just doing my duty".
The Enemy Is Forced To Retreat
With the added help of Gaston’s squad automatic weapon machine gun, the patrol was able to suppress the enemy attack and force the insurgents to retreat.
"Everything you ever go through makes you that much stronger, for the next challenge that comes ahead".