Paratrooper's widow, baby receive Purple Heart

Posted November 6, 2010 11:29 a.m. EDT

— The widow and infant daughter of Sgt. Benjamin Sherman accepted a Purple Heart on his behalf Thursday on the first anniversary of his death.

Sherman, a 21-year-old paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, drowned on Nov. 4, 2009, while crossing Afghanistan's Bala Murghab river during a fight with insurgents.

The 82nd Airborne commander Maj. General Jim Huggins presented the posthumous Purple Heart to Sherman's widow, Patricia. The general pinned the medal on Sherman's daughter Skylah, who was born four months after his death.

"A great leader said, 'We know not where we find such men, but thank God we find,'" Huggins said. "What would become of our country if we didn't have men like Sgt. Sherman?"

The remains of Sherman and fellow paratrooper Sgt. Brandon Islip, who also drowned last November, were found and returned after a nearly month-long search by multinational forces.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still in use and was created by Gen. George Washington in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit. The award was reestablished in 1932 and is given to soldiers who have been wounded or killed combat.