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Face of Defense: Wounded Soldier Receives Honors at Fort Hood Ceremony

By Heather Graham-Ashley
Fort Hood Sentinel

FORT HOOD, Texas, Aug. 11, 2015 – Almost eight months after he was wounded in Afghanistan, Army Spc. Gilbert Frazier accepted the medals he earned at his home station here surrounded by his brothers-in-arms and his wife.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Gilbert Frazier, a combat engineer assigned to Pioneer Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, stands outside the regimental headquarters after he was pinned with a Purple Heart medal by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, at a ceremony on Fort Hood, Texas, July 31, 2015. Frazier suffered serious injuries from a roadside bomb blast while on a route clearing mission during the regiment’s last deployment to Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Erik Warren

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Frazier, a combat engineer assigned to 3rd Combat Engineer Company, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, received the Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Action Badge here July 31 in front of regimental headquarters. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, pinned the awards on the specialist.

Frazier was wounded Dec. 12, 2014, in Afghanistan and originally received the Purple Heart there, shortly after he was injured.

“I was heavily sedated,” he said. “I don’t really remember.”

Over the course of his lengthy recovery, there were offers to host a ceremony to pin the medal on him, but Frazier repeatedly declined. He wanted to wait and receive his awards with his fellow soldiers.

“I felt like this is what is supposed to happen,” Frazier said. “This is where my brothers are. I had to do it here.”

Army Master Sgt. Christopher Lewis, who was Frazier’s first sergeant in Afghanistan, was at the ceremony to support Frazier.

Hard-Working Soldier

“If you got to pick the guys in your unit, he is the guy you want,” Lewis said of Frazier. “He’s an extremely intelligent, hard-working soldier.”

Lewis said the soldiers in the platoon were very close and took care of each other after the incident that wounded Frazier and cost the lives of two other soldiers.

Frazier enlisted in January 2013 to get away from home and provide a better life for his family. He became a combat engineer.

“It looked like the most fun,” he said. “It was real motivating and I get to blow stuff up.”

He deployed with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s 43rd Combat Engineer Company to Afghanistan in June 2014.

On Dec. 12, Frazier was driving during a routine route clearance patrol between two bases.

Wounded in Afghanistan

“It was a normal night,” Frazier said. “We were about a quarter of the way through the mission.”

That all changed for Frazier and four other soldiers, when an 800-pound roadside bomb exploded immediately in front of their truck in Parwan province in Afghanistan.

“We were going to check on guys [at another base],” Lewis said. “It was pretty bad.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Morris and Army Spc. Wyatt Martin were killed in the blast. Frazier was seriously injured with multiple fractures in his legs, neck, back, collarbone, jaw and ribs, and a collapsed lung.

Two others in the truck, including Lewis, also were wounded.

Frazier was sent into surgery in Afghanistan to stabilize him. From there, he called his wife, Giselle, who was in New Jersey at the time, and told her the news about his injuries.

“We would Skype every day and I didn’t want her to worry,” Frazier said. “She thought it was a prank call. I told her to go home to Fort Hood.”

More Surgeries

Frazier was medically evacuated for more surgeries and treatment at Landstuhl, Germany; Walter Reed Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland; and finally at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

The couple reunited at BAMC Dec. 19, arriving within 10 minutes of each other, thanks to the coordinating efforts of a doctor in Afghanistan.

Frazier was at BAMC and the adjacent Center for the Intrepid until the end of March for treatment, therapy and rehabilitation. He spent three months in a wheelchair -- time he noted as the most frustrating period in his recovery.

Giselle was by his side through it all.

“She was a tigress as far as getting him what he needed,” Lewis said. “She was amazing and was positive through it all.”

Wife Provides Support

Giselle knew her husband would recover.

“He had no choice but to be OK,” she said.

Frazier was equally confident of his recovery.

“There was never a question for either of us,” he said, “We knew it was just a matter of time. We have each other and we just needed time.”

Frazier returned to his unit June 21. Back at work, he’s under a temporary medical profile for the time being.

Back on Duty

“I do what I can to stay fit and meet the Army standards,” he said.

Frazier is working to get back to 100 percent because he is not finished serving. He recently reenlisted.

“Two years [in the Army] is not enough,” Frazier said. “I like my job. This is the best job I ever had.”


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