SFS defender receives Purple Heart

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Base officials presented the Purple Heart to a member of the 66th Security Forces Squadron during a ceremony here June 21.

Staff Sgt. Tom Whited received the award for wounds sustained in action Jan. 20, 2024, at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.

"It's not something you look forward to having awarded, but I really appreciate everybody for coming,” said Whited. “I'm grateful for my resilient kids and for the mentorship from my commanders and colleagues. Your support, especially during my deployment and upon my return, is appreciated."

Pinning the Purple Heart to Whited was Col. Taona Enriquez, installation commander.

“It is an honor and privilege to present the Purple Heart to you, Sgt. Whited, a decoration earned under extraordinary circumstances," said Enriquez.

The commander also recognized Whited's children, emphasizing their father's heroism and the significance of the event.

She then spoke about Whited's actions at Al Asad Air Base in January.

"As a fireteam leader, Sgt. Whited led daily air base ground defense operations and post-attack recovery efforts,” Enriquez said. “His rapid response and command during emergency situations were crucial, earning him the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing's Safety Award and an Army Achievement Medal with combat device."

The Purple Heart, originally created by General George Washington, is awarded to those wounded in combat.

"Your humility and bravery inspire us all,” said Enriquez. “May the Purple Heart serve not only as a token of our nation's gratitude, but also as a symbol of your indomitable spirit. Thank you for your service and your profound sacrifice."