News: Purple Heart ceremony honors wounded warriors
Story by Elaine Sanchez
SAN ANTONIO -- Two soldiers wounded in Afghanistan in June were awarded the Purple Heart medal at the Warrior and Family Support Center Sept. 4.
A crowd of military and community members, including several veterans’ organizations, gathered to honor the recipients, Sgt. Jamel M. Abdulaziz, of Austin, Texas, and Sgt. Michael J. Lassey, of San Diego.
Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commander of Brooke Army Medical Center, said it was an “honor and a privilege” to host this ceremony in honor of the soldiers’ dedication and sacrifices.
Both “raised their hand to serve and defend our nation and our way of life knowing full well the risks and sacrifices that may have to be endured,” he said before presenting the Soldiers with their Purple Hearts.
Abdulaziz, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Task Force Lancer, served in Afghanistan as a field artillery firefinder radar operator.
While conducting routine operations June 19, the forward operating base he was on was attacked with small-arms fire, resulting in his combat injuries.
Lassey, of Company A, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Task Force Arrowhead, served as an infantryman in Afghanistan.
Lassey was struck by an improvised explosive device while conducting a dismounted patrol June 18, resulting in his combat injuries.
Abdulaziz and Lassey both thanked their family and friends for their support. Lassey added he was particularly grateful for his mom, who accompanied him to the ceremony. His mom, he said, has “been the best support I ever had throughout my entire recovery.”
Both soldiers also thanked the SAMMC staff for its support.
The Purple Heart is the oldest award still given to members of the U.S. military and is awarded in the name of the president to those who have been wounded or killed while serving their nation.