At a ceremony in Clackamas Thursday, military brass awarded Oregon Staff Sergeant Tim McCrary five medals — including The Purple Heart. As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, the former traffic signal technician from Beaver Creek, re-enlisted into the military when he was 39.
McCrary served in the Navy when he was young, working in nuclear submarines. But after watching the first Iraq war from a distance, in 1996 he decided to enlist again.
In August 2005, he was serving as a gunner in Kirkuik when a roadside bomb hit his Hummvee. A piece of shrapnel, the size of a matchbox, smashed through the window and lodged in his back.
McCrary says he’s lucky not to be in a wheelchair — and pleased to have been awarded five medals.
Tim McCrary: “This is a long-time coming and I realize that there are a lot of people that haven’t got theirs, so this is for all the guys who haven’t got theirs too.”
McCrary is trained as a sniper, but spent much of his time in Iraq driving to community meetings and training the Iraqi police and army. He says his treatment at military hospitals has been good, but he had this advice for anyone who gets wounded.
Tim McCrary: “A lot of soldiers, when they come back, of course what they want to see is their families. So the longer they’re in their demobilization, they're away from their families. So a lot of the guys don’t tell the medical people that there’s something wrong with them. And then they have to deal with that later. Don’t do that. It may take a little longer, but they need to get that documented, stuff that happened to them, because that’s the fastest way to get it taken care of.”
McCrary’s medals were awarded for everything for long service to exemplary behavior. His wife, Nancy McCrary, says his family sees him as a hero.
Nancy McCrary: “You know, he’s always wanted to serve his country. And that’s a big deal. His whole family has been that way, so they were all military in the Navy or the Army or one shape or form. He’s the youngest of seven.”
Purple Hearts have been awarded to soldiers wounded in action since George Washington created the medal in 1782