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A loud blast of enemy fire met Staff Sgt. Anderson Muñoz on Nov. 18, 2011 at Forward Operating Base Shank in eastern Afghanistan. Muñoz, a Nevada Army National Guardsmen with Lima Troop, 1/221st Cavalry, was clearing a shooting range at the end of a day of marksmanship training with fellow soldiers.
“I remember a big flash, like fireworks, and (after that) I couldn’t remember much,” said Muñoz, of Dayton, who was presented Saturday with a Purple Heart medal at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. “I remember things moving slowly and then I remember being at the medical location.”
The 35 year-old was in Afghanistan on his second National Guard deployment that year, one with the cavalry and the second with an agribusiness development team training Afghan citizens to maximize crop efficiency and storage. Muñoz and members of the agricultural team built greenhouses and underground storage for farmers among other projects.
It was at the end of the day of training when indirect enemy fire landed 25 to 50 meters away from Muñoz. Enemy occasionally fired rockets at the base. “In this instance they were aiming for brigade headquarters, which was about 100 meters from our location,” he said.
Muñoz suffered a ruptured ear drum and concussion. He is one of about 50 Nevada Guardsmen to receive a Purple Heart since Sept. 11, 2001.
Muñoz said one of the happiest moments of his life was returning home after the experience to his wife, Kelly, and three children. The couple is expecting another child in March.
“I wish none of our Nevada soldiers ever had to receive the Purple Heart because of what it signifies,” said Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, adjutant general of the Nevada National Guard. “The day a soldier is awarded this medal is a much better day that the day he earned it.”
Burks presented Muñoz with the medal, which is awarded in the name of the president of the United States, to those wounded or killed in combat.
“Thank God we have people like Sgt. Muñoz,” Burks said.
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