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Soldier, family honored with Purple Heart
SSgt. Thomas Gorsuch and his wife, Holli, stand with their three boys during a ceremony Monday morning when he received a Purple Heart. The soldier was wounded while serving in Iraq in April 2008. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
Fort Stewart’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, presented a Purple Heart to Staff Sgt. Thomas Gorsuch on Monday afternoon in Marne Garden.
It was a much different scene from when the sergeant qualified for the honor in an explosion in Baghdad in the spring of 2008. He sustained injuries to his forearm, foot, left knee and head.
As Cucolo explained the historic significance of the time-honored medal, Gorsuch sat next to his wife, Holli, and three of their four sons, all listening intently.
Cucolo said since George Washington initially created “the nation’s first medal,” it has remained a symbol of exceptional bravery. He said he was proud to share it with Gorsuch.
“Combat changes all of us,” the general said. “You go in one way and you come out another and most of us carry that change invisibly. But the living who wear the Purple Heart…have a very visible sign of how combat has changed them. In this physical statement, in ribbons and medals it says, ‘death touched me and moved on.’”
While the actual medal will go on Gorsuch’s uniform, Army officials extended their gratitude to the entire family.
“This terrific Army family remained here at Fort Stewart during the deployment and worried about their husband and their father. This Purple Heart is a small, small token of your nation’s gratitude for your collected sacrifice,” said LTC Ross Coffman.
But appreciation of the family’s service goes even deeper.
“It just so happens that Staff Sgt. Thomas Gorsuch was wounded in the same year that Holli was the Fort Stewart installation volunteer of the year,” Coffman said.
Cucolo ended the ceremony by issuing the soldier a new mission.
“Tell a story. Tell your story, Sgt. Gorsuch,” Cucolo said.
Cucolo also recognized a second family sitting in the audience whose lives were altered on April 12. He said the explosion that wounded Gorsuch as he and other soldiers were clearing a road, killed fellow soldier, Sgt. William Elliott Allmon.
“His mom and stepdad are present and we really, really appreciate you being here,” Cucolo said.
Born in  Douglas, Wyo., Gorsuch entered the Army in 1990 as an engineer and is currently assigned to Fort Stewart with the Echo Company, 1st Battlion, 64th Armor Regiment.
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