FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- As bright sunlight shone on the Purple Heart mosaic adorning the Warrior and Family Support Center patio, two Soldiers received medals for their heroism.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Montez and Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Ramirez received the Bronze Star with the "V" Device for valor during a ceremony Dec. 16. Montez also received his second Purple Heart for injuries he received Oct. 21, 2009, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.

"It is a great day today," said Lt. Col. Charles Beeks, commander, Brooke Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion and host of the ceremony. "We are here to celebrate and pay tribute to the service of two warriors who have answered the call for freedom."

"It is a distinct honor for me to be here to recognize two true American heroes," said Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army North. "A lot of people watch their heroes on TV, read about them in books or see them in movies, but I get to see them live and in person, and walk among them every day."

Montez received the Bronze Star for exceptionally heroic actions while serving as squad leader in Company A, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

According to the published order, Montez's initiative to immediately and aggressively take action in response to an enemy attack and his willingness to ignore personal danger and injuries to keep fighting allowed his platoon to defeat a large Taliban force. His exceptional leadership was essential to the success of the unit's mission.

Montez said the ceremony meant a lot to him.

"You go over there and you do a job and not everybody gets recognized," he said. "It feels good to be able to come back and get awards and be recognized for the job that I did, and for the things that happened while I was there."

Ramirez received the Bronze Star with "V" Device for heroism in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

His citation stated his service during combat operations in Iraq contributed to the overwhelming success of the command's mission.

Ramirez said listening to the narrative brought him back to that day.

"Thinking about what I had done, it was dangerous, but if I hadn't done it we probably would have had more losses," he said. "We are trained to react without even thinking about it."