Amidst the hype of the recent Olympic ceremonies, Lubbock Marines Amos Nugent and Rene Alvarez were given their own ceremony Saturday, after being honored with the Purple Heart award for wounds received in combat. Joseph Bennett, commanding officer of the reserve unit in Lubbock, said he could not be more proud.
"It is an attestment to them and their hard work and their sacrifice," Bennett said. "That they are willing to go out there and suffer the things they had to go through. you know, we are very proud of them. They are both outstanding young marines, and we look forward to them continuing to serve, not only the Marine Corps here in Lubbock, but our nation and the community at large."
Although they were honored for things that happened back in 2010, both Alvarez and Nugent say they remember it like it was yesterday.
"It was the morning over there, and it was ten, about ten when I hit my IED," Alvarez said. "I was unconscious, and I got flung out right away."
"And we were going through a, typically a Taliban-hailed area, and my vehicle struck an IED, and I was knocked unconscious, my vehicle driver was ejected from the vehicle," Nugent said.
Alvarez was wounded the day after his wife's birthday. Jeanette Alvarez said she knew something was wrong the minute she answered the phone.
"He had called me a day or two after he left, and he doesn't call me for weeks at a time," Jeanette said. "So right away, I kept telling him, 'what's wrong?', and he kept avoiding my questions, avoiding my questions, and finally told me to sit down. So he told me, and first of all, I was glad he was alive and okay. You know it could have been a whole lot worse."
And while their families see it differently, both men said they don't consider themselves heroes.
"There are many out there.," Alvarez said. "Not really. To my kids, yes. I feel like a hero to my kids."
"I just feel like every other sergeant in my unit would have kept on going, kept on trucking, no matter how many IED's we hit," Nugent said.
Nugent is now a civilian, working on his business management degree at Texas Tech. Alvarez said his days in the Marine Corps aren't over just yet.