Francisco Roman, a former Marine who now serves as a police officer in San Diego, was recently honored with the Purple Heart Medal for his actions during an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005. The award ceremony, held at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, recognized Roman’s bravery nearly two decades after the incident. At the time of the ambush, Roman was leading his team through Ramadi when they were hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). Despite his injuries, Roman’s first concern was for his fellow Marines.
Roman’s path to receiving the Purple Heart was not straightforward. Following the ambush, he downplayed his injuries and continued serving with his unit, a decision influenced by his desire to stay with his team and a belief that his injuries were not severe enough for evacuation.
After retiring from the Marines as a Staff Sergeant, Roman joined the San Diego Police Department. In 2018, he was critically injured in a shootout while protecting another officer, an event that led to a two-day coma and a year of rehabilitation. This incident brought renewed attention to Roman’s past heroism in Ramadi. His former squad mates, along with his wife, encouraged him to apply for the Purple Heart, supporting his application with witness statements.
The approval for Roman’s Purple Heart came from a familiar figure – General Eric Smith, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who had been Roman’s battalion commander in Ramadi. The medal was presented to Roman by Marine Corps Colonel Daniel Whitley, who served with Roman in 2008.
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