San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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September 15th, 2008
Pathfinder graduate injured in Iraq, awarded Purple Heart

From the San Marcos school district

When he graduated in March 2006 from the Pathfinder Learning Center, Marc Rodriguez took another path into the United States Army that led eventually into service in Iraq.

He continued to stay in touch with his Pathfinder “family.” The campus staff learned that Rodriguez was injured about a month ago by a roadside bomb, but survived to help others.

Last week, Rodriguez received the Purple Heart and his Combat Infantryman’s Badge. “A two-star general flew into our combat outpost, and pinned me,” Rodriguez said. “I was nervous.”

Pathfinder Counselor Amy Lyles said, “We are so proud of Marc. He was one of the original group of Pathfinder students during our first year. He excelled in the Ropes course training and became a natural leader among his peers. He was well-liked then and remains well-loved now. Marc is the sort of guy who would cut off his arm for someone if they needed it.”

Lyles says that Rodriguez calls or Emails his Pathfinder friends about once a week. They were alarmed to learn of his injuries from the roadside bomb. He sustained injuries on his left side that included shrapnel and burns on his side, his arm, and his leg. According to Lyles, Rodriguez was in the hospital for several days, but he downplayed his injuries so he could remain in Iraq.

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those persons who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April, 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. It is the oldest symbol and award that is still given to members of the U.S. military, surpassed in history only by the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington when he was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in 1782.

The actual order includes the phrase: “Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the Purple Heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”

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