U.S. Army Major Gen. Leslie C. Smith awards Specialist Kevin W. Bucek the Military Order of the Purple Heart during a ceremony Oct. 12 at Fort Campbell, Ky. Looking on are wife, Beth, holding daughter, CaliAnna. Bucek is a Crystal Falls native and was wounded while on duty in Afghanistan.
CRYSTAL FALLS—A Crystal Falls native has received the Purple Heart after being wounded while on duty in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Specialist Kevin W. Bucek was wounded on Aug. 8, 2010, when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) while operating in Kandahar Province. Bucek, who serves in the 723rd Ordinance Disposal Company, was supporting soldiers from 1-75th Cavalry Regiment when the attack occurred.
“I was knocked unconscious and medevaced to Kandahar Airfield for 24-hour watch,” Bucek said. He returned to duty seven days later.
The son of Tom and Debbie Bucek of Crystal Falls, he is a 2007 graduate of Forest Park High School.
Bucek enlisted on Jan. 26, 2009 and underwent demolition disposal training in Huntsville, Ala., and at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida before deploying to Afghanistan in June, 2010.
He has been wounded three times, according to his father. “Those are the phone calls I hate getting the most,” he said Friday.
Bucek was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart by Gen. Leslie C. Smith during a ceremony Oct. 12 at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he is currently stationed.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart was originally authorized as the Badge of Merit by Gen. George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782, and was issued as a piece of purple cloth shaped as a heart. Only three were awarded during the Revolutionary War.
Although never decom-missioned, the award fell into disuse and was redesigned in 1932 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. It is the oldest medal awarded to American’s military.
Bucek is eligible for discharge in January 2013, his father said. He resides in Clarksville, Tenn., with his wife, Beth, and daughters Madison and CaliAnna.