NEWS | Oct. 15, 2015

Texas National Guard Soldiers receive Purple Hearts

BAMC Public Affairs

Four Texas Army National Guard Soldiers recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center received both state and federal Purple Heart medals during ceremonies at the Warrior and Family Support Center’s Purple Heart Garden on Fort Sam Houston.

During the first ceremony Sept. 24, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott presented the Texas Purple Heart to Staff Sgt.  Guadalupe Chapa, combat engineer; Sgt. Michael Cantu, infantryman; Spc. James Burkett, wheeled vehicle mechanic; and Spc. Jose Romo, indirect fire infantryman.

All are with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard. The Soldiers suffered various injuries after the vehicle they were riding in struck an improvised explosive device in the Sinai Peninsula Sept. 3.

The Texas governor praised the Soldiers for their dedication and courage.

“The truth is not all Americans have the level of courage that you have. You have the guts, the heart and the courage to go to foreign lands to ensure freedom there, so we can ensure freedom back home,” Abbott said.

“As governor, I have a lot of different tasks to do, but no task is as important or as rewarding as being able to recognize and honor the men and women who serve in our uniform,” he said. “I wanted to be here today to let you know how grateful the people of this state are for you, for your service and for our ability to recognize you today with the Texas Purple Heart award.”

The Texas Purple Heart is the third highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Texas military forces after the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor and the Texas Medal of Valor. It is awarded to any member of the Texas military forces who was inducted into federal service after Sept. 11, 2001, and meets the criteria for the award of the federal Purple Heart.

The Soldiers were awarded the federal  Purple Heart from Maj. Gen. William L. Smith, Army assistant adjutant general and commander of the Texas Army  National Guard Sept. 30.

Smith said he was very proud to present the Purple Heart to the four Texas Soldiers.

During the ceremony, the narrator read the history of the Purple Heart medal, saying it was the “first American award made available to the common Soldier.”

The general said it struck him that the words “common Soldier” were used.

“I don’t think there is such a thing as a common Soldier,” Smith said. “I think all of our Soldiers are very uncommon in the fact that they volunteered for service, and most of them volunteered for service as we are in a time of war, which is a real testament to what our people are and it makes me proud to be here in front of them.”

Because the Soldiers served together in the same unit and were wounded together, they all feel a strong bond with one another.

“We were close this whole deployment and this just made us a whole lot closer,” Cantu said. “We’re not blood related, but we’re all brothers and this just makes us even closer.”

“It’s hard to explain,” Chapa said. “It’s like playing sports; when your team is together, your team is tight, it’s inseparable. It’s a strong bond that can’t be broken, no matter what.”