Oklahoma lawmakers honor soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division

A wounded soldier receives the Purple Heart and another is promoted during a joint legislative session as part of 45th Infantry Division Appreciation Day activities at the Oklahoma Capitol.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: April 10, 2013

An Oklahoma soldier who was wounded five years ago while deployed in Iraq said Tuesday he has no regrets about his service.

“I'd go back and do it again in a heartbeat,” said Jeffrey Kerchee, who was awarded the Purple Heart on the floor of the House of Representatives. “My mom wouldn't like it, but I'd do it again anytime.”

Kerchee, 33, was wounded Feb. 11, 2007, in northern Iraq while he was deployed with the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

He was awarded the medal during a joint legislative session on the floor of the House of Representatives as part of the 45th Infantry Division Appreciation Day activities at the state Capitol. About 40 past recipients of the medal were among the hundreds of soldiers and veterans who packed into chamber.

“It was overwhelming,” said Kerchee, of Edmond. “I love this state. I love the people I was deployed with. I love this country, and happy to have served.”

Kerchee, who left the military in 2010, works for flight inspection services at the Federal Aviation Administration office in Oklahoma City.

“That was the first job I got when I came back,” he said. “I feel really blessed and I appreciate it that the federal government has given me such a good opportunity.”

Those in attendance also watched as Cpl. Scott Hopper, of Stillwater, was promoted to sergeant on the House floor.

Hopper was deployed three times, including Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2011. He was wounded Sept. 12, 2011, and is being medically retired Friday. He said he just got “bumps and bruises” during his first two deployments.

“I'd do it all again,” he said.

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