Bell County Purple Heart recipients recall their journey of sacrifice

KWTX News 10 at 10P
Published: Aug. 6, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2023 at 10:43 AM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Although National Purple Heart Day isn’t until Monday, Central Texas veterans have been celebrating all weekend.

Bell County veteran Rodney Ford was among dozens participating in “The Hero Ride” motorcycle ride from Temple to Kempner on Sunday morning.

In 2008 he was stationed in Iraq when a suicide bomber blew himself up, leaving Ford with an injured knee.

”I’m a third generation soldier and nobody really expected it, but this is the price we sometimes pay,” Ford said.

He received a purple heart afterwards, but lost several of his friends from the blast.

It’s a story Bell County veteran John Footman knows all too well. He was shot in the leg in 1968.Then just three years later, injured when a mine blew up: both times losing soldiers close to him.

”I lost about four or five friends during that time period,” Footman said. “When you lose a battle buddy you try to pick up more of your battle buddies and try to move on.”

Purple heart recipient Tracey Brown-Greene said if soldiers do return home, the effects aren’t just physical, they’re mental too.

”Some days are just bad, some days you try not to get anxious or be angry, but you have to deal with that,” Brown-Greene said.

It’s events like this that help these three purple heart recipients work through their shared experiences.

”It’s hard to ask a civilian for help because they don’t understand what we’ve been through,” Ford said. “Having other veterans that have gone through the same thing is a good vetting process.”

In 2017 KWTX became the first TV station in the country to be designated a Purple Heart Television Station.

The designation came because of our history honoring service men and women through news interviews, including through two documentaries “We Can’t Forget Vietnam” and “From the Ashes of Vietnam.”