Retired Army general and Iraq war veteran receive National Purple Heart Honor Mission's Genesis Medals
By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record | Published: October 4, 2019
NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Purple Heart recipient Megan Leavey told an audience at Anthony's Pier 9 on Thursday night she considered herself lucky to be there.
"I can look around the room and see I'm in good company," said Leavey, a former Marine corporal. "I am happy to be talking to you."
Leavey was one of two recipients of this year's Genesis Medal, presented by the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.
The other was retired Army Gen. David Perkins, who commanded the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq, known as Thunder Run, in 2003.
The National Purple Heart Honor Mission began presenting the Genesis Medal in 2017 to Purple Heart recipients and others who have served the United States and supported its armed forces with distinction. It is named for the Genesis Group of four who founded the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor.
Leavey earned her Purple Heart after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. Her exploits with her K-9 partner Sgt. Rex were the subject of a 2017 movie.
Leavey said the Purple Heart medal is "not something anyone strives to receive."
"We are the few of the lucky unlucky ones," Leavey said to the audience, which included many fellow Purple Heart recipients.
Leavey keeps her Purple Heart on her nightstand, along with Rex's ashes.
"He was wounded alongside me," she said. "Without him, I would not be here. He kept me safe."
"I'm really proud to accept this award," she added.
Perkins, a member of the West Point class of 1980, served multiple tours of duty in Europe and the Middle East. His awards include a Silver Star, the nation's third highest award for valor.
He called the Genesis Medal "a huge honor," but added he felt "unworthy to be in company" with all of the Purple Heart recipients in the audience.
He also thanked the Gold Star families who were present.
"You all bring another whole level of meaning to a veteran's life," Perkins said. "Your warrior is not here physically, yet you still come to these things. You remind the rest of us why we serve. You remind us our service was not in vain."
Perkins also praised all those who support the Purple Heart hall, especially those who volunteer their services there.
"Thank you for working to make sure that our country does not take (Purple Heart recipients) for granted," Perkins said.