Mon | Jan 22, 2018

Trump awards first Purple Heart

Published:Sunday | April 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
President Donald Trump (left) awards a Purple Heart to US Army Sgt First Class Alvaro Barrientos, with his wife, Tammy Barrientos, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center yesterday.

BETHESDA, Maryland (AP):

President Donald Trump yesterday awarded a Purple Heart to an army sergeant who was recently wounded in Afghanistan, the first of many Trump likely will award during his service as commander-in-chief of the United States military.

"When I heard about this, I wanted to do it myself," Trump said during a brief ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington.

The medal went to Sgt First Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded on March 17 in Afghanistan during America's longest war. The White House did not release Barrientos' hometown.

It was Trump's first visit as president to the military hospital. His wife, First Lady Melania Trump, joined him.

Barrientos, whose right leg below the knee had been amputated, was wheeled into a hospital atrium in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife, Tammy.

Trump kissed Barrientos' wife before pinning the medal on the sergeant's left shirt collar, grasping Barrientos by the shoulders and then shaking his hand. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed in action.

Trump's decision to allow news media coverage of the medal ceremony was in sharp contrast to former President Barack Obama, who awarded Purple Heart medals during his regular visits to Walter Reed, but always did so behind closed doors.