EHS return grad earns Army medals
Former Eudora resident U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Kurt Hopson has been commended a second time for his service in the armed forces.
Hopson served with the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One) and received a Purple Heart last year in for an injury he suffered during his 2004 deployment to Iraq. This year, Hopson was awarded the Bronze Star.
The medal is given to soldiers who show meritorious service in a combat zone during wartime, Hopson said.
"Basically, I was awarded the Bronze Star for a job well done, I suppose, in Iraq," he said.
Because there was a change in the ranks above him, his Bronze Star was delayed, Hopson said.
"It had been lost then found and lost again," he said.
Hopson talked about the award and life at his current posting at Schweinfurt, Germany, during a visit to Eudora. He arrived in town Aug. 13 and stayed for three weeks.
According to his Bronze Star award certificate, Hopson conducted more than 100 surveillance and clearance operations, which led to the destruction of 36 improvised explosive devices.
"To me, it means that the people within our chain of command acknowledged a job well done," Hopson said.
After graduating from Eudora High School in 1989, Hopson joined the Army in 1991 and has served in both Eastern Europe and Iraq.
Near Balad in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hopson suffered an eye injury when an IED detonated near the Bradley fighting vehicle he drove.
He returned from Iraq in 2005. Between further training and visits home, he has been serving in Germany where he and his family have established their lives.
His wife, Patricia, works for the United States Postal Service on the base. His children Dylan, 9, and Morgan, 7, attend school in Germany.
Morgan is fluent in German, Hopson said.
"We get the best of both worlds," he said. "We get the American schools and the activities and the German school and their education."
The family also finds time to return to America when Hopson has leave.
During his most recent stay, Hopson attended a Kansas City Chiefs preseason football game and attended their training camp in River Falls, Wis.
At the base, Hopson has up to 120 soldiers reporting to him. He's the first sergeant of the Delta Company of the 1-18th Infantry.
"Basically, all the enlisted guys in the company work for me," Hopson said.
The base helps prepare soldiers for duty in Iraq, he said. Soldiers learn about both the environment and tactics needed in the conflict. The base also is in charge of outfitting the troops.
Hopson said those preparing for the front need to trust the training they receive, trust their leaders, and listen to what they're told.
Hopson said he wasn't sure what he would do when he retired from the Army.
"I plan on staying in Germany for another three years and then I can retire," he said.