CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - The 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) held a Purple Heart ceremony for one of its own in a ceremony at Camp Arifjan March 13.
Maj. Charles Diggs, from Tuskegee, Alabama, received the award from Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, 1st TSC commander. Diggs currently serves in the 1st TSC Support Operations Distribution Integrations Branch. When wounded in action, he was serving as executive officer of the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.
On Nov. 4, 2013, Diggs was overseeing customs inspections at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, when two incoming 107 mm mortars impacted in the vicinity of where he was working. The resulting explosions caused shrapnel wounds and first degree burns to his body.
"It all happened so fast. I remember mostly being dazed and confused - simply trying to process everything that happened," said Diggs. "I was really nervous because I couldn't see my back or know how bad it was burned."
The attack occurred less than a week prior to Diggs' redeployment from theater. Due to his recovery and subsequent change of duty station, he was not able to receive the award until just over a year following the action.
Diggs grew up on a farm with four brothers and a sister. All four of his brothers have served in the Army - two of whom are retired noncommissioned officers. In all, the Diggs brothers boast over 113 years of combined military service.
His youngest brother, Sgt. 1st Class Willie Diggs, is also a Purple Heart recipient, having sustained injuries from an improvised explosive device attack while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. He is still on active duty and serves with the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.
"When you look at the years of dedicated service to our nation, it is obvious that patriotism runs deep in Maj. Diggs' family," said Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, commander of the 1st TSC.
Over 100 Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers attended the ceremony Friday, but the most honored guest, Diggs' wife, Pearlice, was able to view through video teleconference from the 1st TSC conference room at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Pearlice Diggs is a retired Army veteran with 20 years of service as a military police officer.
"Viewing such a pivotal moment in our lives was emotional and more than I imagined," said Pearlice. "We are eternally grateful to the 703rd BSB [command team], Soldiers and medical teams that provided care and support to us during a very difficult time."
Originally designated as the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart was established by George Washington - then commander-in-chief of the Continental Army - on Aug. 7, 1782, and is the nation's oldest military decoration. It is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. Although never officially abolished, the award was given to no one following the American Revolution until it was re-introduced on Feb. 22, 1932, on the 200th anniversary of Washington's birth.
Since 1932, the Purple Heart has been awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. 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. It is specifically a combat decoration.
"Receiving the Purple Heart is bittersweet," said Williams. "Bitter because of what one has to endure to receive the award, but sweet because we are lucky to have [Diggs] still standing here with us today."