55th Combat Camera Soldier receives Purple Heart, Joint Service Commendation
September 18, 2009
- "The Purple Heart is not an award Soldiers strive to earn, but I am deeply grateful to have it re-presented to me before my family and friends
Spc. Evan Marcy was living the life he wanted since joining 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera).
The combat photographer, deployed to Afghanistan, humped his way up the country's hills and mountains documenting the work of the military as they engaged insurgents.
"I signed up for Combat Camera to get beyond the fence, into the country [and] talking with people," he said.
But his experience came to an abrupt end July 29, after the 25-year-old was injured in Afghanistan. He was presented with the Purple Heart before he came back to the U.S. last month.
On Sept. 1, before a crowd of family members and Combat Camera Soldiers, Maj. Dan C. Wood II, commander of Combat Camera re-presented the Purple Heart to Marcy during a ceremony at McGill Training Center. The award was accompanied by the Combat Action Badge and the Joint Service Commendation Medal as well as other gifts, such as a lifetime membership to the Veterans Of Foreign Wars.
"The Purple Heart is not an award Soldiers strive to earn, but I am deeply grateful to have it re-presented to me before my family and friends," Marcy said.
For Marcy's family, the moment stirred other emotions.
"I'm very proud of him," said Joy Marcy, Evan's mother. "I'm glad he's healthy enough to receive it."
The ceremony also brought back Combat Camera's former commander Maj. Donald Reeves, who left the unit earlier this year for a new posting at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"You get flushed with sadness for the traumatic event he went through, but you well up with pride for the personal sacrifice," Reeves said.
Following the formal ceremony, Reeves, as well as dozens of members of Combat Camera lined up to shake Marcy's hand.
When Sgt. Jason Stewart, a comrade within the unit learned of Marcy's injury earlier this month, it was as though a cloud had settled over the sergeant. Seeing Marcy smiling and joking during the ceremony removed some of the solemn feeling that had come over him, he said.
"It's kind of still there because of the graveness of the situation he's in, but I'm glad he's not retreating into himself," Stewart said.
Marcy has been doing anything but falling into a stupor since his return from Afghanistan last month, according to family members.
"Every week he's been improving," said Duane Marcy, Evan's father. "[He's] like 1,000 percent better every week."
The decorations, warm words and line of Soldiers ready to greet the returning service member were astonishing to Duane Marcy.
"Only being his Dad and shuffling him around to football, you don't realize the dedication he's had," said the 45 year-old retired New York firefighter.
For Marcy though, the ceremony was welcomed but somewhat different than he expected.
"Coming back home, it's weird," said the veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "It's definitely different than a normal homecoming."
Marcy is unsure about the future.
The rise in modern prosthetics has opened doors for wounded Soldiers, said 1st Sgt. William Armstrong of Combat Camera.
"With today's technology, there's nothing that says he can't do anything, even serve in the Army," Armstrong said.
But the possibility of returning to active duty, but not being able to return to the kind of work he was doing would be hard to accept, Marcy said.
"I really don't know if I want to stay in the military or get out," he said. "I want to keep using the skills they've given me."
Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.