Airman to receive Purple Heart

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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- Technical Sgt Douglas Gerald Smits who is currently stationed at FE Warren Air Force Base will be receiving a Purple Heart for his bravery and sacrifice during a deployment in Afghanistan.

The airman from Milwaukee, Wisconsin had his first assignment as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Member from 2004-2009. He deployed three times, but during his second deployment in 2007, he and his team were hit by an Improvised Explosive Device.

Smits's actions to continue his mission as well as help other members of his team demonstrated both bravery and sacrifice in a time of war. He and his team contributed to the success of one of NATO's largest operations in the area and were able to defuse several explosives. Smits says the operation as a whole was to help reduce terrorism and restore power and infrastructure in the country.

About 10 years later, Smits was later diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.

TSgt Smits will be honored with the Purple Heart January 5 at FE Warren Air Force Base.

Smits said his great grandfather also received the award and added, "It's extremely humbling to get it, so it goes back to really amazing Americans, so it feels pretty cool to be a part of something like that."