Joint Base San Antonio
9:27 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Army Army Chief Of Staff Odierno Visits San Antonio Military Posts, Awards Purple Heart

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno came to San Antonio Wednesday to visit wounded troops at the Brooke Army Medical Center, the Center for the Intrepid, and the Warrior and Family Support Center. 

The general was also here to pin the Purple Heart on a soldier wounded in Afghanistan.  

“One thing I try to tell everyone is that we have an incredible generation of young people who are willing to step forward and willing to serve selflessly, and if necessary are willing to give all in order to protect our country," Odierno said. "And today is a ceremony that recognizes that valor and heroism.”

Staff Sgt. Robert Drebenstedt was injured in August 2012 after a soldier set a bag of explosives down on an IED that had not been cleared.

Gen. Ray Odierno speaks to reporters about the drawdown of U.S. troops.
Credit Eileen Pace

“What saved me was I was kneeling down and my vest and Kevlar took most of the blast," Drebenstedt said. "But one soldier lost his life and another soldier was critically injured. So I think about it every day and send prayers to that family every day.”

Drebenstedt, here for medical treatment since his injury, now plans to retire and return to school to become a physician's assistant. 

Odierno, who has testified in recent weeks about the planned drawdown of U.S. forces, said San Antonio should expect cuts to its forces over the coming months that correspond to cuts across the board, including some reductions in the Army’s medical capability.

“Nothing will be untouched. When you cut 150,000 people out of the active component – when you cut 35,000 people out of the National Guard – it’s going to impact many things, to include the commands here in San Antonio.”

The general stopped to visit with wounded war fighters at the Center for the Intrepid and the Warrior and Family Support Center, and checked on two Fort Hood soldiers being treated at the Brooke Army Medical Center after the shooting rampage at Fort Hood on April 2. Odierno said the Army’s investigation is continuing.