“Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”
Those words were on the initial order of the Purple Heart, the nation’s oldest military decoration.
On Tuesday, a Fort Stewart soldier received the same order from the 3rd Infantry Division’s commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, for his role in the war on terror.
“Back then, officers were the only ones who got stuff to hang off their uniforms,” the general said. “Washington wanted the enlisted guys to get something and this was it.”
“Today’s fights in Afghanistan and Iraq are our young men and women’s fight and those are the ones who are receiving the Purple Hearts.”
At Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Community Hospital, Cpt. Darren McDonough, who is currently assigned to the 3rd ID’s Warrior Transition Unit, received a Purple Heart, his second during his 15 years in the Army.
Cucolo said, “When you had that piece of purple silk on, a guy would walk up to you and say, ‘whoa, this guy is a war hero’…
“I can’t think of a better example of this than Cpt. McDonough. He did not have to be a leader … he volunteered.”
McDonough received his first Purple Heart after he was shot in the neck while deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.
During a 2008 deployment to Iraq, McDonough said he was leading a military transition team with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Brigade, 8th Divison, Iraqi Army, when he came under fire again, this time he was hit in the chest.
“The attack threw me back and caused me to rupture a disc in my back,” he said.
Jokingly, McDonough said, he thinks of himself as a target, not a hero.
“Either I am really unlucky, or I am very lucky,” he said. “I guess it just depends on how you look at it.”
Cucolo said he looks at McDonough and his service as the “embodiment of the young officers and non-commissioned officers” who are leading the war.
“Death touched him and he beat it,” he said. “It is just indicative of the type of young men and women we have serving. I am honored to wear the same uniform.”
At his wife’s request, McDonough said he will medically retire this summer.
The transition, he said, will be difficult.
“The Army values are the only thing I know,” he said.
“To anyone watching, tell them that I am looking for a job,” he said into the cameras.