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Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star families to be honored at Fayetteville dinner

Posted August 18

— It's been nearly 50 years since Thomas Washington was wounded in Vietnam and given the Purple Heart.

"I was in the forward base camp," Washington said. "Mortars started dropping on us, and before I realized what was happening, I had got wounded."

The blast propelled him into the air. He thought he was dead.

"Well, when you couldn't breathe, you couldn't hear, you couldn't see and you could feel nothing, I considered myself to be dead," Washington said,

A medic saved his life on the battlefield.

The Sandhills Purple Heart Foundation plans to honor Washington and other Purple Heart recipients with a special dinner. It takes place Saturday at the Crown Expo Center in Fayetteville.

The dinner also honors Gold Star Mothers, like June Augusta, who have lost sons to war.

"They were escorting Marines out to defuse an (improvised explosive device)," Augusta said.

Sgt. Eric Hernandez died in Dec. 2007 in Iraq. His convoy was ambushed by a bomber.

"The IED was hand-detonated, and my son and Pvt. White were killed almost instantly," Augusta said.

Augusta said she plans to be at the dinner for the simplest reason.

"My biggest fear is that no one will ever know who he was or speak his name," she said. "I just want him to be remembered."

More than 200 Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star mothers will be honored at Saturday's dinner, as a way to thank them for their service.


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