Three National Guard Soldiers Receive Purple Heart Medals - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Three National Guard Soldiers Receive Purple Heart Medals

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Phoenix, AZ-Three Arizona Army National Guard members received Purple Heart medals over the weekend.

The soldiers served in the same company, but all three were injured in separate incidents during their deployment to Afghanistan last year.

During the Purple Heart ceremony, they reunited with their fellow soldiers and friends from their unit.

Private First Class Gino Duran of Phoenix was clearing a route for a convoy when his vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device last September.

Gino Duran was knocked unconscious.

"You hear the boom. I woke up, couldn’t really see. I had blurred vision, ears ringing, couldn’t really hear anything," he said.

Gino was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury.

His wife Ruth, had just given birth to their first child, Elizabeth right before he deployed, 5 months earlier.

"When they told me what was going on in my head I was thinking ‘Oh my God,’" said Ruth.

Gino was on a 9-month deployment to Afghanistan with 90 other members of the 819th Engineer Company.

Two other soldiers, Specialist Leif Skoog of Phoenix, and Gino’s best friend Specialist Antonio Medrano of Yuma, were injured in separate incidents.

On Saturday, all three were awarded the Purple Heart at a ceremony at Camp Navajo near flagstaff where they were reunited with their unit.

"Actually, getting presented the award yesterday to be recognized for it was amazing," said Gino.

"I know what they went through wasn’t easy, and transition to come back try to get back to civilian life isn’t easy," said Ruth.

Gino says while he never wanted to be injured, he says, the award brings honor to his family.

Two of Gino's brothers served in the Army.

His older brother Hector just finished training with the Army Reserve when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver in 2004.

"He’s my biggest inspiration. I wish he was here to see me," said Gino.

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