Over five years ago, BM1 Joseph Ruggiero’s found himself in a desperate and tragic situation when he was deployed in the Persian Gulf. As a member of TACLET’s Law Enforcement Detachment Team 403, he was assigned to establish and maintain a security zone around the Khawr al Amaya Oil Terminal. When a boat was operating strangely and didn’t look like a typical local boat, he and his team began to approach the vessel. Suddenly, the boat exploded throwing PO Ruggiero and the six other crewmen violently from their boat. PO Ruggiero summoned his training to heroically rescue several of the men despite his own injuries.
For his actions, he was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with a Combat “V” for Valor. This was the first Purple Heart given to a Guardian since the Vietnam War. His fellow Guardian and friend, Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal, was posthumously given the same awards. Two other Navy sailors were killed and three others were wounded as a result of the incident.
Read this story for a personal account of the day’s tragic events.