CONCORD, N.H. – In front of his family, friends, and panel of distinguished guests such as New Hampshire representatives Gov. Maggie Hassan and Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, Sgt. 1st Class Paul M. Dimond was awarded the Purple Heart Medal on Friday March 28, 2014 at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, N.H., for injuries he sustained serving as part of the Army Reserve’s NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan 2011.
Dimond was acting as the noncommissioned officer in charge of a training course provided to the Afghan National Army. While attending a graduation ceremony on Dec. 8, 2011 at the Afghan National Army’s 205th Corps training center, Sgt. 1st Class Dimond was injured when an improvised explosive device hidden under the chair of Maj. Gen. Abdul Hameed, the highest ranking Afghan officer in southern Afghanistan, was detonated in an attempted assassination.
“I’m honored to receive the award and very humbled,” said Dimond, a Manchester, N.H., native. “There’s a lot of guys out there worse off than I am. They’ve received a lot more injuries than I have, and just to get the award itself is a very humbling experience.”
He was only five meters away from the detonation. Immediately following the explosion Dimond says his training kicked in. While disregarding his own injuries he maintained his composure, reacted to contact, and obtained full accountability of the members of his team.
“I’m not a hero by any means,” said Dimond. “I’m just doing my job and that was my job that day – to take care of my guys.”
Despite his humble attitude, those who made their way to the state house have great respect for the duty and sacrifice Sgt. 1st Class Dimond has made for his country, state, and fellow service members.
“To be able to represent the people of New Hampshire in thanking Sgt. 1st Class Dimond for his sacrifice, which has made us all stronger and made our freedom stronger too, it’s just a great honor,” said Gov. Hassan, a daughter of a veteran.
“I’m happy for him, that he finally got it,” said Mary Dimond, Paul’s wife. “It’s well deserved. I think it’s a little overwhelming for him.”
Sgt. 1st Class Dimond isn’t the only member of his family to receive the Purple Heart. His father-in-law, John Morse, received a Purple Heart on March 20, 2014, for injuries he sustained in combat during the Vietnam War 47 years ago. Morse had originally declined the medal while recovering from his wounds in a hospital in south Vietnam because he didn’t believe he deserved it at the time.
“I’m proud but I’m still nervous and I think there’s a weight off my shoulders,” said Morse, to a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter. “I think it’s well overdue… my thinking that I didn’t deserve it is probably past due, it’s lifted. It feels nice.”
The Purple Heart is one of the oldest commendations in American military history, dating back to the later years of the Revolutionary War and was originally designed as the Badge of Military Merit. Despite Gen. George Washington’s wishes that the award be a permanent decoration in the military, the conclusion of the war also meant abandonment of the medal.
It wasn’t until World War I that new life was brought to the award when Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing suggested that there should be an award for merit and in 1932 the Purple Heart was created in recognition of Washington’s original concept for the bicentennial of his birth under General Order Number Three: “…By the order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart, established by Gen. George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.”
Throughout the years the Purple Heart has undergone several changes in regards to the criteria that must be met in order to receive the medal. For example, the Purple Heart used to be awarded exclusively to surviving service members in the Army and Army Air Corps until President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed the Purple Heart to be awarded by the Department of the Navy to sailors, marines, and coast guard personnel. This executive order also allowed the medal to be awarded posthumously on or after Dec. 7, 1941.
Despite his injuries, Dimond continues to serve proudly in the Army Reserve as a drill sergeant with 1st Battalion, 304th Regiment based out of Londonderry, N.H. and is scheduled to train and provide lessons learned to Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets in their training at Fort Knox, Ky., this summer.