Lieutenant Governor Abramson's Communications Office
Lt. Gov. Abramson presents Purple Heart to Kentucky veteran

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, June 20, 2012  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Sgt. Gary Wolfinbarger wounded in Afghanistan during minefield-clearing operations

MORGANTOWN, Ky. – Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson presented a Kentucky veteran this week with a Purple Heart Medal, recognizing the great sacrifice of suffering injury in the service of his country.

Sgt. Gary L. Wolfinbarger, of Morgantown, was wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Wolfinbarger joined the Army in 1983 and has received numerous awards, including two Army Commendation Meals and the Combat Action Badge.

“As an American, service member and Kentuckian, I am proud to present Sgt. Wolfinbarger with this Purple Heart Medal, which he earned through personal, physical sacrifice during wartime service,” Lt. Gov. Abramson said. “This medal is a tangible token of our country’s thanks for that sacrifice by Sgt. Wolfinbarger and by all servicemen and servicewomen who wear the medal.”

In March 2008, Wolfinbarger was sent to eastern Afghanistan to conduct route reconnaissance and area clearance operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His battalion was responsible for clearing minefields.

According to the Department of Defense, on Dec. 14, 2008, Wolfinbarger was performing route clearance duties when his mine-clearing vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). The soldier sustained multiple physical and neurological injuries and was medically retired in July 2009 after approximately a quarter-century of Army service.

The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Knox assisted Sgt. Wolfinbarger in applying for the Purple Heart. The program also provides personal services for severely injured, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and family members. This includes applying for awards and linking families to agencies that will ensure they receive all their benefits and entitlements, said AW2 Advocate Joyce Hamilton.

“This is a very exciting day, and I feel honored to be here to share with this wonderful occasion,” said Joyce Hamilton, who worked with Sgt. Wolfinbarger.

Sgt. Wolfinbarger said Hamilton’s assistance was invaluable to him.

“I couldn't have done anything without assistance from Mrs. Hamilton. She helped me obtain my award today and put together this ceremony. Thank you for everything.”

The Purple Heart Medal is part of military tradition tracing back to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. More than 1 million service members earned the Purple Heart during World War II; more than 7,000 in the current fighting in Afghanistan.