Fort Gordon soldier receives his second Purple Heart

Fort Gordon soldier receives his second Purple Heart

FORT GORDON, GA (WFXG) - One Fort Gordon soldier received his second Purple Heart Thursday.

1st Lt. James P. McGrath was deployed in Afghanistan when he was shot.

Family, friends and fellow soldiers filled a room at Fort Gordon Thursday to honor McGrath for putting his life on the line every day.

"It's scary. It really is you know," said father James P. McGrath. "Especially when you only have one son and that happens to him, you know?"

In July 2012, McGrath was serving in Afghanistan when his platoon came under direct fire from an enemy ambush. McGrath was struck by a 7.62 mm round. He was able to find cover and get checked out by a medic. Once he realized his injury was not life-threatening, he continued to give commands to his platoon.

Just two months earlier, McGrath earned his first Purple Heart when his platoon was struck by a control-detonated IED. A video shown on Animal Planet shows the actions that earned McGrath his first Purple Heart.

Material from the explosion entered his left forearm causing him to have a compound fracture, losing some muscles from his arm and losing total use of his hand.

"You know, it's weird because that was supposed to be the fun area we went to. Because I was doing left seat right seat. I was trying to show them new platoon area. So you go to a place that is not kinetic and you're not going to get shot at. I guess they were looking for me and they found me," McGrath said.

This wall right here represents all the fallen soldiers that weren't able to make it back home. But for first Lt. McGrath to stand before many today for his hard work and determination for this country made it all worthwhile.

"You know, this is all for me and I don't really understand it," McGrath said. "But I thought about my guys, the guys I lost and the guys I served with, where they are, where some of them can't be. You know, it's the normal roller-coaster that emotions take you on."

McGrath says the Purple Heart Award is an award that everyone wants, but doesn't want.

And being before his family and fellow soldiers this afternoon is an experience that just can't be explained.

"I love putting the uniform on because it's a code of ethics, code of honor and everything you say resonates throughout everyone that's been there and everyone that's worn the uniform before," McGrath said. 

Since McGrath retired he's pursuing a Master's degree in business administration at Southern New Hampshire University and serves as a mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project, giving back to those soldiers before him that have given so much.

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