Two California National Guardsmen received Purple Heart awards from U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein for their service in Iraq before a packed auditorium Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Arne Eastlund and Spc. Evan Bozajian both received injuries when roadside bombs exploded near their Humvees. After touring the San Francisco Veterans’ Authority Medical Center, Feinstein pinned Purple Hearts on both of their uniforms.
“As of spring, 2006, this year, 21 California Guard members have been killed in combat in Iraq,” Feinstein said. She thanked the National Guard for its service in the U.S. and abroad. Feinstein is the ranking member and former chairwoman of the Senate’s Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee.
Staff Sgt. Arne Eastlund, 44, of Sacramento, served previously in the Navy and California National Guard. He re-enlisted after Sept. 11, 2001, and shipped out to Iraq in September 2004 to serve with a military police unit, Feinstein said.
On June 5, 2005, the Humvee Eastlund was driving hit a roadside bomb as it traveled as part of a convoy on a mission to monitor the training of Iraqi police officers, Lt. Bruce Coren said. Eastlund suffered burns on his legs, cuts to his face and lost hearing in his right ear.
Specialist Evan Bozajian, 24, of Oceanside, went to Iraq in January 2004. He was stationed as a gunner on a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle, causing nerve damage and injuries to his back, hip and left leg.