CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- Specialist (SPC) Heather Armstrong is back at home in Central Point after days of historical sightseeing in New York. She was one of 33 Purple Heart recipients from across the country honored at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and gifted this experience. Armstrong was the only woman and the only Oregonian in the group.
Specialist Armstrong joined the military back in 1999. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003.
"I about fainted. I fell out of formation. That was the scariest moment in my life at that point," Armstrong said.
Just a few months into her deployment, she and other soldiers were attacked with mortars.
"Everything went dark at the time," Armstrong described. "I was wounded and it was just complete chaos. I didn't know how badly wounded I was."
Shrapnel went into her head, her toes, and multiples places in her knees and legs. There's still some even left in her arm. She walked away with a traumatic brain injury and now deals with short term memory loss. Months later, she found out she would receive a Purple Heart.
"It definitely brings back memories," Armstrong said, holding the medal in her hand. "They always say in situations like that, you see your life flash before your eyes. It does."
More than 15 years later, she became one of 33 Purple Heart recipients to go to New York for the very first Purple Heart Patriot Mission, a special program under the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc.
"The only word I can pick to describle the trip is incredible. I mean, there were so many things that were so amazing to see."
The group was also honored at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
"I realized how much I love being an American and being able to meet such amazing people and being able to do the things we get to do," Armstrong said with tears in her eyes.
Now she wants to do everything she can to make sure other Oregon Purple Heart recipients get to do the same thing.
"It's just so surreal. You get this whirlwind tour of all these magnificent places."
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