JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
The Vice Chief of Staff of the Army honored three Soldiers with Purple Heart medals at the Warrior and Family Support Center Dec. 3 and also visited with wounded warriors at San Antonio Military Medical Center.
After BAMC and Southern Regional Medical Command Commander Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong opened the ceremony, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III presented the medals and certificates.
Austin welcomed the Purple Heart recipients with words of praise for their courage, dedication and their sacrifices.
"Your service is greatly appreciated by our country," he said. "We are honored to continue to receive fine young men and women like you and we are actually encouraged for the future by what we continue to see on a daily basis."
"These awards are not a benefit; it is an entitlement," Austin said.
While conducting a mounted route clearance patrol in Afghanistan, where Spc. Marcus Carr was serving as a combat engineer, his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, resulting in his combat injuries July 16, 2011.
He suffers from multiple injuries and continues to receive medical treatment at SAMMC.
"I thank God for being here," Carr said. "The doctors say I shouldn't have been here ... and I'm here."
Serving as a motor transport operator in Afghanistan, Spc. Christopher Delaney was riding in his vehicle when it was struck by an IED, throwing his vehicle into the air, which caused his combat injuries June 27.
Infantryman Pfc. Ryan Thomas was conducting a dismounted patrol in Afghanistan when his vehicle was struck by an IED Oct. 13. He is recovering from shrapnel wounds throughout his lower extremities.
"For all of my brothers out there, my brothers in arms, keep your heads up and keep up the good work," Thomas said.
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.
Following the ceremony, Austin visited with wounded warriors at the Center for the Intrepid and gave them words of encouragement while ensuring they were receiving the best medical care possible.