Army Chief of Staff presents Purple Hearts and praises medics in San Antonio
July 27, 2009
By Lori Newman
- Gen. George Casey pinned two Purple Hearts on Soldiers injured in combat.
- The ceremony took place at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. presented two Purple Hearts at the Warrior and Family Support Center, Brooke Army Medical Center here, July 23.
Casey, in San Antonio for a series of events, pinned the decorations on Spc. Tony Guzman and Pfc. Wesley Williamson then toured the facility after the brief outdoor ceremony.
"This award recognizes the sacrifices, not only that our Soldiers make, but also what their families do to support them and the sacrifices their families make," Casey said. "To have the privilege of recognizing the valor of these Soldiers and the efforts of Soldiers like them all around the world is a great opportunity for me."
"This is a first; I don't think I have ever been on crutches presenting an award to someone on crutches." Casey, recovering from tendon surgery, joked while presenting Guzman his Purple Heart.
Born in Big Springs, Texas, Guzman was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry. He was injured in Iraq, March 21, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
Williamson, born in Albuquerque, N.M., was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Iraq. He was injured May 9, 2008, when his vehicle struck an explosive formed projectile.
"We have been at war for eight years as a country . . . with the population of the United States at about 300 million, less than one percent of the population are members of our armed forces. They are the ones leading this fight. I continue to be awed by the resilience and the strength of Soldiers like Specialist Guzman and Pfc. Williamson and their families," Casey said.
Williamson thanked his mother, Claudia Williamson, and his brother, Jesse, for coming from Albuquerque, N.M., to be by his side. He also thanked the Brooke Army Medical Center staff for the care they provided him.
After the Purple Heart ceremony Casey visited wounded warriors in the main hospital before addressing the Association of the United States Army medical symposium downtown.
Speaking to more than 2,000 Army medical professionals Casey expressed his gratitude for their service and sacrifices before updating the group on the state of the Army.
"The number one thing we can do to get ourselves back in balance is increase the time Soldiers spend at home, said Casey."
The Army chief also discussed a new program called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
According to Casey the CSF program is part of an Army effort which raises mental fitness to the same importance as physical fitness and builds resilience in Soldiers, family members and Army civilians.
Casey took questions from the audience and spoke with the media before returning to the Pentagon.
Lori Newman, Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs Office, contributed to this story.