Vermont National Guardsmen Receive Purple Hearts

By Staci DaSilva |

Published 08/16 2014 05:39PM

Updated 08/16 2014 08:25PM


It's been 3 decades of service for Vermont National Guard's Mountain Battalion stationed in Jericho.

Saturday’s anniversary celebration also included a Purple Heart ceremony for two of the Guardsmen.

Sgt. Eric Bloom and Sgt. Kelsey Letourneau were injured together on July 23, 2010 in Afghanistan.

“We were doing a convoy just going up a hill and an IED exploded underneath our seat and that's where myself and Sgt. Bloom received our injuries,” explained Sgt. Kelsey Letourneau.

They were both left with traumatic brain and back injuries. After recovering, they completed their year-long deployments in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, they stood side by side to receive their Purple Hearts. “I was excited, very excited. And honored,” said Letourneau.

Sgt. Bloom works as a career counselor for the Vermont National Guard. Letourneau is looking forward to returning to Cleveland where he works as a motorcycle mechanic.

The two brave men are part of the Vermont National Guard's Mountain Battalion, a battalion that celebrated 30 years of service on Saturday.

“30 years. It goes by in the blink of an eye,” remembered Major General Will Roy, former Commander of Mountain Brigade.

Major General Will Roy was there in the beginning. “We were untrained, untested. It was a new concept and we didn't know where it was going to take us,” said MG Roy.

There hadn't been a mountaineering unit in the Army since World War II.

“Mountaineering is the ability to operate in very austere environments at high altitudes. When most people are just trying to survive, we're excelling,” said MG Roy.

The mountain patch on their uniforms represents the Army's only recognized mountain brigade.

“Wherever we go, there will be a mountain tab on our shoulder and those who wear it represent the best or our Army and our nation,” said MG Roy.

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