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Soldier earns Purple Heart

POSTED: September 8, 2007 5:04 a.m.
“I will not forget this place and I will not go far...I’ll go out that front gate, but that don’t mean anything. This is my home. I’ll be 3rd ID, dog-faced soldier, ‘til I die.”
These words garnered Spc. Frank Garcia a resounding ovation from the crowd on hand to watch him receive a Purple Heart during a ceremony inside Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Community Hospital Patriot Auditorium on Wednesday morning.
With his wife, Myra, two sons, Steven and Joseph, daughter, Nyah, and father, Frank Garcia Sr., looking on, the former member of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team was pinned with the Purple Heart by hospital commander Col. John Collins.
The Purple Heart is an American combat decoration, the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first American award made available to the common soldier.
It 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.
Garcia was wounded on May 15, 2005, while driving in a convoy from Al Hilla, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
“Specialist Garcia is Army strong. He answered the call to duty, serving in an all-volunteer Army to preserve peace and democracy in the United States, our wonderful country,” 4th brigade commander Col. Thomas James said, noting the dangers involved with Garcia’s convoy assignment. “He was a hero, he distinguished himself as a hero and forever will be a hero.”
Standing at the front of the auditorium with the help of a cane, Garcia, now a member of the division’s Warrior Transition Battalion, said his time in the Army was a great experience and he “would come back 100 times.”
The soldier, who plans on furthering his civilian education in life after the Army, added he only had one special request for the soldiers soon to deploy to Iraq.
“For everybody that’s going over there, wave that flag for me ‘cause I’m there. A piece of me is always going to be there,” Garcia said. “A piece of everybody in this room is always going to be there.”
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