Local News

Henderson Marine gets Purple Heart from Obama

Posted March 1, 2010 7:23 a.m. EST

— A Camp Lejeune Marine whose hometown is Henderson received a Purple Heart medal directly from his commander-in-chief.

Staff Sgt. Steven Matea, 33, was one of 12 injured service members who got a visit from President Barack Obama Sunday morning at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Obama presented the Purple Heart medal to Matea then, his father, Jim Matea, said.

Matea was severely wounded Feb. 20 in Afghanistan when a Taliban missile exploded. He suffered injuries to his legs and chest, including a pierced lung. A comrade next to him was killed.

A graduate of Southern Vance High School and East Carolina University, Matea was on his fourth tour overseas to Iraq or Afghanistan. His job is to neutralize and disarm bombs and improvised-explosive devices.

“He’s real dedicated,” Jim Matea said in an interview a few days after his son was injured. “He would never even dream about passing this obligation to somebody else."

Doctors say Steven Matea, who is scheduled to be promoted to gunnery sergeant, should make a full recovery. He is married and has a 4-year-old son.