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Staff Sgt. James N. Wheeler (left) and Lance Cpl. Matthias E. Knudsen (right) received the Purple Heart May 1 at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, for injuries they received during an improvised explosive device attack March 3. The Marines are military police officers with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Wheeler is a native of Vernal, Utah, and Knudsen hails from McKinley Ville, Calif.

Photo by Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz

MWSS-374 Marines awarded Purple Heart in Iraq

8 May 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Roach

Two Marines were awarded Purple Hearts May 1 for injuries received during an improvised explosive device attack in the Al Anbar province. 

Staff Sgt. James N. Wheeler and Lance Cpl. Matthias E. Knudsen, both with the military police, sustained shrapnel injuries during an IED attack March 3.

"We were out on an IED call," said Wheeler, referring to the unit who provides convoy security for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. "We were the lead vehicle and we received a stop call over the radio. We then hit a different IED while we were stopped."

Wheeler was hit by shrapnel in his wrist and sustained several minor burns on his forearms and face. Knudsen was the .50-caliber machine gunner in the turret of the same humvee. He was hit in the knee with a piece of shrapnel.

"When I got to the hospital I went into surgery right away," said Wheeler. "I stayed for three days and then returned to my unit where I was on light duty for a month."

Both Marines are with the Provost Marshal's Office of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, Marine Wing Support Group 37 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and will be deployed for another three to four months. 

Wheeler is a native of Vernal, Utah, and is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has an 11-year-old daughter named Justice.

Knudsen is from McKinley Ville, Calif. This is his first deployment.

According to 1st. Lt. Jered Hemingway, military police platoon commander, MWSS-374, even with the injury, the Marines have adapted well to the environment.
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing