On Saturday, Specialist Moises Gonzalez was awarded a Purple Heart by Brigadier General Donald J. Currier, Commander of the California Army National Guard.
On hand to see the award were members of Specialist Gonzalez family and ranks of fellow soldiers.
Proud family members included his wife, Danaelyz; his younger brother, Christian; his abuelita, Tomasa Villegas; his mother, Maria Villegas; his father, also Moises Gonzalez (“He’s a junior!”); and baby brother Alexander.
Circumstances surrounding his wounding
At the time of his injury, he was walking to his work station when the camp came under a rocket attack.
“At first I thought the rockets were outgoing because there was no siren,” Specialist Gonzalez explains. “I was next to the chapel when I realized the rockets were incoming. I hit the dirt.”
He determined that his position was too exposed. As he ran for the cover of a nearby bunker, a rocket hit close by and sprayed his right side with gravel.
Despite his injury, he made it to the bunker before calling out that he was hit.
He was subsequently treated at the onsite emergency medical facility before being evacuated from Iraq.
Specialist Gonzalez is now stationed at Ft. Irwin and continues to recover from his injuries. He has ongoing hearing loss in his right ear, motion sickness that he had never suffered from before (“I loved riding roller coasters!”) and has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Purple Heart history
The Purple Heart originated with General George Washington as recognition for non-commissioned officers and soldiers who performed singular meritorious actions on the field of battle. After decades of disuse, the medal was revived at the urging of General Douglas MacArthur.
During World War II, it was specifically changed to recognize soldiers for injuries or death in combat.
Veterans awarded the Purple Heart are eligible for membership in the Military Order of the Purple Heart, chartered by Congress in 1958 and limited to combat-wounded veterans.
Pictured left to right: Brigadier General Donald J. Currier, Commander of the California Army National Guard, congratulates Specialist Moises Gonzalez on recognition of his sacrifice in being wounded in combat and receiving the Purple Heart. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.