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NEWS | Oct. 19, 2012

Vice JCS chairman visits, honors wounded warriors in San Antonio

By Maria Gallegos Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

The nation's second highest ranking military officer honored two wounded warriors during a Purple Heart ceremony at the Warrior and Family Support Center here Oct. 12.

During his visit, Navy Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, also visited with patients at the Center for the Intrepid and San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Army Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commander of Brooke Army Medical Center and Southern Regional Medical Command, opened the Purple Heart ceremony followed by Winnefeld, who presented the medals and certificates.

"It is great to be back in Texas," Winnefeld said during the ceremony. "There is no place other than Texas that truly supports our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines like the way they do here."

Winnefeld welcomed the Purple Heart recipients with words of praise for their courage, dedication and sacrifices they made to defend the nation. He also recognized and acknowledged the wounded warriors whose injuries are not as visible.

"We are going to take care of them (wounded warriors) for many decades to come," Winnefeld said.

Sgt. Paul T. Roberts was assigned to Company D, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, serving as a water treatment specialist in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated resulting in his combat injuries Nov. 24, 2011.

Spc. Jason Smith, an infantryman, was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team when he stepped on a pressure plate improvised explosive device July 25 in Afghanistan, resulting in his combat injuries.

After the ceremony, Winnefeld visited with about 15 wounded warriors at the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the art outpatient rehabilitation facility. He said he was impressed with the wounded warriors who were participating in sports with their leg brace called the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO.

"This is what I came to see -- the IDEO in action," he said.

At the end of the visit, Winnefeld visited with patients at the medical center, giving them words of encouragement, praise and gratitude, and ensured them that they are getting the best medical care during their recovery.