More than three years after Utah National Guard 1st Sgt. Steven B. Cochran was injured in Iraq, the soldier was awarded a Purple Heart on Saturday during a special ceremony.
In August 2003, Cochran was serving in Fallujah with the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion when he came under fire by rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and machine-gun fire. Cochran was wounded in the head and right hand from shrapnel, some of which he still carries in his right index finger.
Guard officials say the "reluctant hero" returned fire to neutralize the threat while trying to help evacuate a severely wounded soldier. Cochran, a Herriman resident, declined requests Friday for an interview, despite a press release inviting media to a ceremony Saturday at the Guard headquarters in Draper where he was honored.
Purple Heart recipients don't normally receive the level of attention being given to Cochran, but his case is different because soldiers specializing in military intelligence are not normally involved in live-fire situations while doing their jobs, according to Guard spokesman Maj. Hank McIntire.