FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico - Spc. Marines Candelario, a Puerto Rican soldier assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, was presented the Purple Heart award Sept. 27, during a ceremony, hosted by the Puerto Rico Community Based Warrior Transition Unit, at Fort Buchanan.
Candelario was awarded the medal for combat wounds she sustained in Afghanistan as a result of an improvised explosive device attack Nov. 3.
“I just did my job to the best of my abilities because I love what I do. If on top of that you also receive this type of recognition, it becomes one of the best days of my life as a soldier and as a person,” said Candelario minutes after officially receiving the Purple Heart.
Members of Candelario’s family were also present to witness the important moment.
“I am extremely proud of my daughter. I am very happy. God bless and protect her always,” said Vivian Gonzalez-Merced, mother of Candelario.
Candelario, a native of Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, and who is a Heavy Equipment Operator, received the coveted award from the senior US Army Reserve Officer in the Caribbean and commander of the 1st Mission Support Command, Brig. Gen. Fernando Fernández.
“This is a special occasion when we take time to recognize some really deserving members of our Army who have fulfilled the commitment of serving our nation in a time of need, in a theater of war. Today they are getting the well deserved award and recognition for their sacrifices, the devotion to duty and their commitment,” said Fernandez.
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces, who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy. It is awarded in the name of the President of the United States.
Candelario, who also received the Combat Action Badge, recently returned to Puerto Rico after spending 10 months at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, where she received treatment.
She is now continuing her treatment through the Puerto Rico Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU), a specialized military unit that allows recuperating soldiers to live at home, having access to medical facilities near their family, while remaining in active duty.
At the CBWTU, an experienced nurse case manager, monitors the soldiers care, coordinates the healthcare appointments, tracks the progress and ensures his or her care meets the Army and Tricare standards.
CBWTU units are a reflection of the Army’s commitment to provide world-class care to wounded soldiers and their families.
“I feel grateful and happy with the work I was able to do. Thank you to all those people who worried about me,” Candelario added.
Staff Sgts. Eric Fuentes, Jossean Borrero, and Specs. Josue Valentin, Rafael Cubero and Jose Hernandez were also recognized during the ceremony for their service in Afghanistan.
Fuentes and Hernandez received the Combat Action Badge and the Army Commendation Medal.Cubero and Valentin received the Army Commendation Medal. Borrerro received the Bronze Star, which is the fourth-highest combat decoration and is awarded for bravery.
The Army Reserve-Puerto Rico has mobilized approximately 5,000 troops in support of Overseas Contingency Operations since 2001.