Soldier's family receives Purple Heart at ceremony


Spec. Jeffrey Colbert's family gathered Tuesday at Fort Detrick in Frederick to receive a Purple Heart awarded to him after he was killed during a "friendly fire" incident over Iraq last year.

Specialist Colbert, 22, formerly of Taneytown and later a resident of Myersville in Frederick County, was one of 26 people killed when two Blackhawk helicopters were shot down by U.S. fighter planes over a no-fly zone in Iraq in April 1994. The American F-15 fighter pilots mistook the helicopters for Iraqi helicopters.

Specialist Colbert's family gathered for the ceremony at Fort Detrick, including his wife, Laura, and their two young daughters, Amber and Beth.

In September, the Army refused to issue the medals because the military personnel were not engaged in hostile action.

However, Air Force Secretary Sheila E. Widnall and Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr. issued a statement earlier this month that said the medals would be awarded to the 14 Americans killed "because the incident took place in a geographic area where the presence of hostile forces was anticipated."

The Purple Hearts weren't approved until the victims' families made repeated requests to the military.

One Air Force officer is scheduled for court martial in the case. Charges against the two fighter pilots have been dropped.


* New Windsor: Firefighters from New Windsor and Union Bridge responded to investigate a report of a fire alarm sounding in a building in the 1000 block of Tibbetts Lane at 1:17 p.m. yesterday. Units were out 17 minutes. New Windsor firefighters responded to an auto fire on Bowersox Road at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday. Units were out 44 minutes.

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