SAN ANTONIO - The Purple Heart is an award that was initially created by Gen. George Washington as the first American award given to the common soldier.
On Thursday at Brooke Army Medical Center, the tradition continued, with the award being given to two Army soldiers who showed uncommon courage.
San Antonio native Private 1st Class Ryan Hawk lost both legs just below the knees when his truck was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades in Afghanistan in October.
"It means to me that I served my country well (and) sacrificed my own blood to make sure that we're all free, " Hawk said.
Specialist Michael Maki was hit by small-arms fire while on patrol last month in Afghanistan.
"It's not an award that I really wanted. I tried my best to avoid it this deployment. I made it seven months in Afghanistan and nine month in Iraq," Maki said.
The two soldiers were presented the Purple Heart by the Surgeon General of the Army, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho.
"It’s an award that’s given because an American was willing to put their life on the line to support and defend our nation's freedom," said Horoho.
Members of the families of the were also in attendance.
“It’s really an honor to get to see him get this. I am just really thankful that he is alive,” said Meredith Maki, Michael’s mom.
"There's no higher position, in my opinion, (than) somebody who will (sacrifice) their life or their body parts," said Lee Korn, Ryan Hawk's father. "There is just no higher honor. It's just amazing. He's my hero."
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