Army Secretary awards nine Purple Heart medals at SAMMC
Story by Maria Gallegos, BAMC Public Affairs
Published January 17, 2012
Photo by Maria Gallegos
(left to right) Command Sgt. Maj. Marshall Huffman, BAMC command sergeant major, Staff Sgt. Robert Geer, Staff Sgt. Brian Wayland, Spc. Joshua Saul, John McHugh, Secretary of the U.S. Army, Pfc. Cameron Congleton and Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commander of BAMC and SRMC, pose after the Purple Heart ceremony Jan. 11 at the WFSC. McHugh presented the Purple Heart medals and certificates to four Purple Heart recipients.
Nine wounded warriors were honored during Purple Heart ceremonies Jan 11 at San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) and the Warrior and Family Support Center (WFSC).
The Honorable John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, visited with 19 warriors at SAMMC and presented five warriors with their Purple Heart medals at their bedsides.
After the hospital visit, McHugh toured the Center for the Intrepid and presented four more Purple Heart medals at the WFSC.
Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commander of Brooke Army Medical Center and Southern Regional Medical Command, opened the ceremony followed by McHugh, who presented the medals and certificates.
"When I come to this place like Brooke Army Medical Center, it truly makes you feel young and it makes you feel blessed. General Wong and Command Sergeant Major Huffman, I want to thank you for your hospitality here this morning. Please pass on my deepest appreciation and express admiration; I think you are a great team here, all components of it, and just do incredible things for Army members, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, all across the services," McHugh said. "Of course the great families as well. Itís truly a miracle of medicine that you perform each and every day - something that all of us can take a great deal of pride, and I am greatly appreciative of your expertise and your contribution."
McHugh welcomed the Purple Heart recipients with words of praise for their courage, dedication and sacrifices they made to defend our country and recognized the importance of Army families to the Army and the service men and women.
"The Purple Heart is the longest awarded and continuously awarded medal of valor. Its an interesting decoration in that it's one of the most recognized certainly, one that just about anyone can identify once they see it. It is something that I hope is worn with great pride, with great devotion," he said. "It's probably not the first award most Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coastguard men set out each and every day to win. Itís the kind of award that distinguishes service members who at the most critical moment land themselves in harmís way and make that great sacrifice."
"General Wong mentioned something I think that is breath taking about folks in this era that put on this uniform. Yes, they do it as volunteers but virtually all of them Ė joined in a time when they all knew with great likelihood they would go into harmís way. They would be under fire, they would meet the enemy, they could well pay the ultimate sacrifice, they could end up in a place like this Ė and yet they did it- they did it out of love of country, those things that have motivated service men and women, since the Army founding in 1775; duty and honor, country and personal sacrifice," added McHugh. "That deems something thatís bigger than yourself, that desire to be part of an incredible team. And four great servicemen we are honoring today have proven they are at the head of that incredible team."
"The other thing we would like to talk about besides the team concept in the Army is the Army family, it's a phrase we use a lot and it has a lot of different definitions. The Army first and foremost of course it means you are part of that family and every Soldierís caring for every other Soldier and one who suffers any kind of loss is felt by everyone in some fashion. But it is the traditional definition as well. It's the loved ones, Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, spouses, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. Those folks, who at toughest times, when all of us are most challenged, carry us on their backs."
"I want to say a special word of thanks of appreciation and admiration to the family members. Those folks, who are here today, those folks who are not here physically, are always with our service men and women in spirit supporting them with their thoughts and prayers and their love because they too sacrificed and weíre deeply appreciative of that."
"So, I want to end by thanking the President of the United States for allowing me this great honor to be here and to present this time-honored, very esteemed award for four very deserving Soldiers."
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration and the oldest military honor in the world in use.