May 16, 2007

Watch much delayed Purple Heart ceremony in the Capitol

Sgt. Sean Knudsen of Howell will finally formally receive the Purple Heart he not only earned on the battlefield but had to fight the Pentagon bureaucracy to get at a special ceremony 9:30 a.m. Monday May 21 in Room 352 of the Capitol Building in Lansing in front of friends, family and area veterans.

The 16-year veteran of the National Guard and Iraqi War veteran was initially denied the Purple Heart he earned when he suffered shrapnel injuries to his head, left arm and shoulder in February 2005 when his convoy in Iraq was hit by small arms fire. Despite the fact the Department of Veterans Affairs has declared Knudsen disabled due to combat injuries, his application for a Purple Heart was initially denied, as were those of many soldiers in his unit.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reports Knudsen has said it's more than bureaucratic inefficiencies that have led to the medal denials. He suspects it's an intentional campaign to minimize the number of injuries suffered by American troops in Iraq.

The Bush Administration minimizing casualties? I find that hard to believe. For the conservatives reading this, that’s sarcasm. I hold the same belief as Sgt. Knudsen. Knudsen said officials have told him that possibly hundreds or thousands of soldiers have not been given the Purple Hearts they deserve, and he is also fighting to get the award to those fellow soldiers. He sent a letter to Gen. George Casey of the Joint Chiefs of Staff requesting all records relating to denied Purple Hearts be released to a congressional committee, and he is also preparing a letter for President George W. Bush.

If you are in Lansing Monday morning and not doing any thing stop by and see the ceremony. General Thomas Cutler of the Michigan National Guard will participate in the ceremony, pinning the Army Combat Action badge on Knudsen, as well as U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers.

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