Purple Heart recipient Daniel Haff finds it understandably difficult to talk about the day eight years ago when he was wounded in battle while serving in Afghanistan.
The greatest honor should go to his comrades who were killed in action, said Haff, who spoke during a memorial ceremony in honor of Purple Heart recipients held Tuesday at Brentmoor Assisted Living Community in Minot.
“I believe that they deserved it much more than I did but I was lucky enough to come home,” said Haff.
Haff, a retired Army sergeant, said he also felt a duty to tell his story because there are so many other warriors who didn’t have a chance to tell theirs.
The Purple Heart is given to service members who are wounded or killed during action.
The Brentmoor Assisted Living Community has four residents who are Purple Heart recipients Jesse Lee, Selmer Sartwell, Robert Neuharth and Edgar Hick. Nineteen of the residents at the nursing home are military veterans. Several residents also had family members who were recipients of the Purple Heart.
Haff said he grew up admiring the World War II and Korean War veterans of this generation and wanted to be like them. His own grandfather received the Bronze Star during service in the Korean War. Haff said he was inspired to join the Army because he grew up admiring his grandfather for his service. Haff joined in 2000 and decided to stay in the service after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, feeling he had a duty to continue to serve his country.
Haff was wounded on Aug. 21, 2006, while he was leading his platoon on combat patrol. The platoon was attacked by insurgents on three sides and Haff was shot through the left arm and knocked over by a hand-propelled grenade, which also knocked him out. When he regained consciousness, he was still in the line of fire. Haff said he played dead for several minutes, which saved his life. He was able to keep fighting for another hour until he was finally evacuated.
Haff was medically retired from the Army in 2008. He said he feels both proud and humbled to belong to the ranks of Purple Heart recipients. Without their actions, especially the actions of those who died in battle, he would not be free to be a husband, father and business owner, he said.
American Legion Chaplain Richard Reuer said there will be other Purple Heart memorial services at other nursing homes in Minot. Purple Heart recipient Rollie Port will speak at a ceremony at 3 p.m. today at Trinity Homes and Purple Heart recipient Dakota Burke will speak during a ceremony at Somerset Court on Aug. 19 at 3 p.m.
Aug. 7 is designated as Purple Heart Day to honor wounded combat veterans and slain military members.