A Purple Heart medal is one of the highest honors a soldier can receive. It's the oldest military decoration and the first American award available to the common soldier. The Purple Heart is reserved for military service members injured or killed in the line of duty.
May 15, 2005 is a day Army Spc. Frank Garcia will never forget. "He was driving in a convoy in Iraq when an explosive device exploded near the vehicle and causing his injuries," said Col. John Collins.
Spc. Garcia says he was escorting a group of American VIP's and Iraqis when the device went off. "I've seen pictures of what happened to myself. I'll never figure out how everything around that truck got banged up except where I was sitting," said Garcia.
"He answered the call to duty serving in a volunteer military to preserve peace and democracy in the United States and he was a hero," said Col. Thomas James.
And Today his commanders, fellow soldiers and family looked on as Garcia was recognized for his bravery and dedication, receiving a Purple Heart.
"The President of the United States has awarded the Purple Heart established by George Washington in 1782 to Spc. Frank Garcia," said Major Gwendolyn Moore.
"I am proud to have been a part of it. I mean this is a great honor," said Garcia.
Spc. Garcia says even though he was injured and is no longer in the Army, he will never forget and he will always call Fort Stewart his home. "I'll go out the front gates but that doesn't mean anything and I'll be Third ID dogface till the day I die," said Garcia.
And for soldiers who are in Iraq, Spc. Garcia has a message for you. "Wave that flag for me cause I am there. A piece of me will always be there and everybody in this room will be there," said Garcia.
Once Garcia is discharged, he plans to continue his education.