FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Captain Michael Frese was pinned with a Purple Heart Saturday at the 122nd Fighter Wing. Frese was wounded in Afghanistan in May of 2011. He joined the army, not as a soldier, but as chaplain.
“Chaplains aren’t normally outside the wire, as they say in the military, and he put himself in harms way, and was able to come back safely, although injured,” said Brigadier General John McGoff of the Indiana National Guard.
“We had just sat down for a video teleconference, it was 1:30 on a Monday,” Frese said while recalling the incident.
Seven rockets were fired at him and the few others he was with. Frese suffered a concussion and still sees black spots.
The chaplain’s job was to give the 900 soldiers in his unit religious relief. However, with the battalion seeing action on the battlefield almost daily, Frese needed that relief himself and would pray at the start of each day.
“That does something to you when you start the day that way. It puts things in perspective, and makes you realize what is really important,” said Frese.
Dozens of people came out to honor Frese at Saturday’s ceremony, including his family.
“Seeing my wife and children when we re-deployed on January 6th, 2012, it was one of the best feelings of my life,” said Frese.
The Purple Heart is the oldest known United States military decoration that is still presented. It was established originally by George Washington in the Revolutionary War.
After his time with the Army, Captain Frese joined the Air National Guard. He’s now a base chaplain at the 122nd Fighter Wing, and an associate Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne.