Valley Soldier Awarded Purple Heart in Our Nation's Capitol

FRESNO, Calif. On October 2nd the newly married 23 year old army staff sergeant Christian Hughes of Clovis was serving in Afghanistan. His second combat tour had his unit training Afghan police officers. That night one of those police officers turned out to be a Taliban infiltrator who ambushed the unit with an AK-47 killing two fellow soldiers and gravely injuring Hughes and others.

He described that night and his close call with death, "I was bleeding out. I was getting weak and my medic said to me "you gotta stay with me". As crazy as it sounds I saw her (his wife) in my head. I started thinking, I started thinking about her and I said, not today, I'm not dying today."

Six weeks later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. his body is beginning to heal from wounds to both legs. He is still facing more surgery to repair the damage. His young wife Bethany and his mother Barbara Pease have been with constantly. Barbara Pease puts it this way, "I'm proud when I walk down these halls and meet every one of these soldiers and their family members. For their sacrifice, not only the soldier, but the families. They are all making a huge difference. And I'm very proud of him he's my hero."

But on this day ... November 17 ... his entire family gathered from across the U.S. to look on as Hughes not only received his purple heart but passed along replicas to his Mom and his wife Bethany, "He's doing the hardest job but it's also hard to sit at home worrying about him what he's doing."

His extended family is very relieved that he's home and give thanks to the generosity and support of the California communities that helped them meet travel expenses to be with him. And it's making a big difference in this soldiers' life.

"My spirits are high because I still have both my legs and I'm alive. There is no greater privilege and pride than putting on this uniform." His injuries will keep Sgt. Hughes at Walter Reed for some time to come.

Since the global war on terror began the United States Army has awarded some 37-thousand purple hearts to those injured or killed serving their country.

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