08/12/12 — Purple Heart recipients honored

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Purple Heart recipients honored

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 12, 2012 1:50 AM

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Edward A. Hooker is honored at the Purple Heart Banquet Friday at Walnut Creek Country Club. Hooker received the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during the Korean War.

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Purple Heart Foundation of N.C. committee member Gerry Phelps salutes while the national anthem is played during the banquet.

It wasn't in their nature to go into detail about the circumstances that brought them to Walnut Creek Country Club Friday evening -- to unwrap the firefights and explosions that earned them the Purple Heart and a seat inside Goldsboro's first-ever Purple Heart Banquet.

But as they sat together at the table of honor moments before their sacrifices were to be recognized by family members, friends and neighbors, you got the sense that the nearly 40 local heroes who came together were proud to be there -- despite the fact that for many, the sacrifices they made on the battlefield have defined their lives ever since.

Some endured gunshot wounds during Vietnam.

Others suffered injuries in Europe and the Middle East.

But each had something in common as they made their way -- some on foot, others via wheelchair and walker -- underneath a line of crossed swords at the beginning of the program created to thank them for their service.

All 39 were on the receiving end of a thunderous ovation.

Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker Joe Marm said it was humbling to be among so many great Americans -- to be asked to be one to formally thank them for standing up for freedom in war theaters across the world.

And others, including a little boy, called it "unforgettable" to see so many of Wayne County's most decorated veterans in the same place at the same time.