A Georgia Air National Guardsman received the Purple Heart on Sunday for injuries he sustained during an attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.
Air Force Tech Sgt. Franklin Wetmore — a radio frequency transmission systems craftsman assigned to the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard — was at Bagram Air Base on Dec. 11, 2019, when a "nearby explosion shook a terminal" of the base, according to a press release.
Taliban fighters had invaded a medal facility on the base's perimeter which was undergoing renovation at the time and attempted to fight their way onto the base in a brazen assault on the facility.
The Taliban fighters never got inside the wire and were eventually killed in a series of airstrikes.
Wetmore was injured in the initial explosion, but "jumped into action" to provide security and guide unarmed personnel, like some civilian contractors and people who were leaving the shower area, to safety.
According to the release, Wetmore "guarded more than 500 personnel who were hunkered down in the terminal," and held his position for around two hours before he was able to get medical attention for his injuries.
Wetmore said during a ceremony on Sunday at the Museum of Aviation outside Robins Air Force Base that at the time of the attack — just weeks before the holidays — he'd been thinking about "family, food, and looking forward to the helicopter ride to a forward operating base in Afghanistan."
"I love America, and I go to deployed locations knowing I may never see my family again," Wetmore said. "America and freedom are that important. I am always ready and will always say 'yes.'"