MINOT, N.D. — Nearly 8 years after he was wounded during an attack, a North Dakota National Guard Soldier was presented a Purple Heart for wounds he received in Iraq. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, presided over the ceremony, honoring Sgt. Michael Wing, of Surrey, at the Minot Armed Forces Reserve Center today.
“Today, Sergeant Wing joins an elite group of patriots who throughout our nation’s history have made incredible sacrifices in the name of freedom and democracy,” said Gov. Dalrymple. “While serving in Iraq, he put the mission first and the needs of others before his own. Sergeant Wing is deserving of this prestigious recognition and we are grateful to him for his distinguished service to our state and nation.”
He received the award for combat wounds while he was assigned to the Company A 141st Engineer Battalion, serving as a Team Leader in Iraq with his unit overseas from February 2004 to March 2005.Wing received a Combat Action Badge for his actions from an attack on his patrol on April 7, 2004.
Wing was the gunner on the lead vehicle when insurgents attacked the convoy with small arms and rocket propelled grenades. Wing received the Purple Heart for wounds received on September 16, 2004, during a routine route clearance mission when his vehicle was attacked with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades. Wing was the gunner of the second vehicle when an IED exploded with 2 meters of him. SGT Wing continued mission and sought medical treatment upon completion. He was treated for post blast symptoms and returned to missions the following day.
“We will always remember those Soldiers and their Families who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “Today, we honor a Soldier who represents the essence of selfless service — a core Army value. Sgt. Wing embodies the strength and perseverance of our Soldiers and Airmen. Our Guardsmen continue to meet the challenges placed in front of them through serving their communities, state and nation and I am humbled by their honor and courage. He is a testament to the courage and dedication that defines our military men and women.”
More than 2 dozen others from the 141st Engineer Battalion have received the same medal. Four were killed in action during the yearlong deployment: Specialists Phil Brown, James Holmes and Cody Wentz, as well as Staff Sgt. Lance Koenig.
Wing was honored in front of a crowd of friends and Family during the event. The Stanley, N.D., -native, currently serves in the Forward Support Company 164th Engineer Battalion out of Minot. Wing’s wife, Crystal, and two sons, Dylan and Zach, and daughter, Ava, were present at the ceremony, along with his father, Gene, and mother, Marge. When Wing deployed, his first son Dylan was 11 months old and Crystal was 5 months pregnant with Zach.
During the ceremony, Wing said, “I am honored and grateful to the senior leadership from the state of North Dakota for presiding over this ceremony and I thank my Family for their support during my service to the nation.”
The Purple Heart has a lengthy history and is the world’s oldest military medal in continuous use. The original medal was initiated as the Badge of Military Merit by Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War in 1782. The Purple Heart, as we know it today, began in 1932 and has undergone changes and award criteria since Washington’s time. It is awarded to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who was wounded, killed or died from wounds from military action.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. About 70 percent of all members serving today have joined since that time. Currently, nearly 400 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while about 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
High-resolution photos at Flickr set "Wing Purple Heart Ceremony"