Indiana Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Richard A. Blakley, 34, Avon, Indiana
Assigned to Company E, 38th Main Support Battalion, Indianapolis, Indiana, but deployed with 738th Area Support Medical Company, Monticello, Indiana. Killed Tuesday, June 6, 2006 as a result of small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol near Al Khalidiyah, Iraq.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels presented Blakley with a Purple Heart during a ceremony in Baghdad on April 15, 2006 when the governor visited Iraq and Afghanistan. Blakley had been injured by a sniper in January, was treated locally and returned to active duty the same day.
“The loss of any Hoosier soldier always hits us hard, but I can’t help but be especially affected by this case,” said Daniels. “I already had been deeply moved by Richard’s courage and devotion to duty and had told his story to thousands of people. I don’t know words to describe heroism this large.”
Upon returning from Iraq, Daniels wrote about awarding the Purple Heart to Blakley in a “Notes from the Middle East” summary of the trip that was sent by e-mail to constituents who have corresponded with the governor. He wrote “When offered a trip home by virtue of his wound, Richard had declined. When told to take a week off to recuperate, he declined. When his commander then suggested at least a few days rest and observation, he declined again, insisting on rejoining his team that very afternoon. I have no idea exactly what I said to his assembled comrades at the Purple Heart ceremony, but hope that anything it lacked in eloquence was offset by the heartfelt admiration and gratitude which one could not help but be overwhelmed by, given the privilege afforded to me.”
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the Adjutant General of Indiana, said, “Today we mourn the loss of a great soldier who is the epitome of a warrior. SSG Blakley consistently put himself before others eagerly volunteering for missions. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of SSG Blakley whose death will not be forgotten."
On June 8th, 2006 Governor Daniels spoke about a conversation he had with Blakley in Iraq. “We talked a lot about life as a medic,” Daniels said. “He had saved, by his count, three lives.
“He was very modest about what he’d done.”