FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- On this day in 1782, General George Washington created the Purple Heart award during the Revolutionary War to reward his soldiers.
The Purple Heart is awarded to any member of the armed force who has been wounded or killed while serving.
Chuck Adkins served in active duty for more than 20 years and after retiring as a major for almost five years he was called back to active duty. He was sent to serve as part of a military transition team leader and commander in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He said a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device struck and killed and injured both American and Iraqi soldiers, and while they were aiding soldiers they came under fire.
“My brigade commander called and said turn your vehicle around your guys are ready for further evacuation," Adkins said. "We turned around and went about 100 meters and my vehicle was struck by an IED."
Adkins said the post-blast analysis indicated it was a mortar buried in a pothole full of water and a man in a vehicle punched a button to detonate it.
“I will tell you if the trigger man would have been two seconds slower or my driver had been two seconds faster I would probably not be sitting here because it went right up in front of my vehicle in between my driver and me,” Adkins said.
Adkins only suffered a concussion, a broken toe and minor injuries.
He said he feels blessed to be alive.
This happened just two days after Christmas in 2006. His first request to receive the Purple Heart was denied, but he finally received it in December of 2012.
He said this award isn't something any soldier goes looking for and that there is always that bond between all veterans.
"That's regardless of whether you've received the Purple Heart or not and that's what we love," Adkins said. "It has come to a surprise when I've heard someone talk about a Purple Heart and I go 'I've got one of those' and they just kind of look at you, but the first thing they do is stick their hand out and say thank you.”
Northwest Arkansas Veterans Appreciation Day will be held on Aug. 20 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Frisco Park in Rogers.