HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — He smiles, a lot. He’s a happy person and a proven Wingman with two Purple Hearts.
Master Sgt. Joseph Upton, explosive ordnance disposal technician, received his second Purple Heart June 21 for injuries sustained while deployed to Afghanistan in 2013.
Upton was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2013 and supporting an 82nd Airborne infantry unit operating out of Combat Outpost Ware in the Argendahb River Valley. His unit’s mission was to stop all insurgent traffic between Helmand and Kandahar Provinces.
Upton was setting up an observation post with a small team of soldiers from the unit in an abandoned farm when a member of the team stepped on an improvised explosive device injuring him and five others.
Ignoring his injuries, he cleared the area for other explosive devices and provided security while casualties were attended to by a medic. Upton then breached a wall in order to gain access to the only suitable area for a medical evacuation.
Following the medevac, Upton stayed behind and continued supporting the infantry unit for three more days before he could be relieved.
It was later determined Upton suffered a concussion, a partially separated retina and a spinal cord injury from the IED explosion.
Since that time, Upton said his recovery has been “hit or miss.” He still experiences pain and headaches from his injuries today.
He said he is thankful for the support of his wife and the EOD community.
“I have never been left without someone to talk to or someone to help out if I needed it,” he said.
He received his first Purple Heart from an incident in December 2005 while deployed to Iraq.