Two Oklahoma Guardsmen Surprised With Purple Heart Ceremony

Sunday, December 2nd 2012, 9:52 pm
By: News On 6

It was a special day for two Oklahoma soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry.

Cpl. Scott Hopper and Sgt. Jay Silk were injured in Afghanistan last year. On Sunday, they were awarded Purple Hearts during a surprise ceremony.

It started as a typical holiday party, then turns into a prestigious award ceremony.

"I'm amazed by all the support that showed up here to this," Hopper said.

In September 2011, Hopper was shot in his right arm during a Taliban attack.

"Everybody always says you fall back on your training, but you really do," Hopper said. "It's also the guys I was there with. If it wasn't for any of them, it could have turned out a whole lot worse."

A couple months before Hopper's injuries, Silk was involved in the unit's first roadside bomb.

He and two others were hurt.

"After months and months of training and then all of a sudden when it actually happens, you kind of have a shock," Silk said.

Receiving a Purple Heart is an honor, but it's bittersweet.

"It is an honor to get one, but I miss my guys a lot and worried about them all the time while I was home," Silk said.

Hopper said: "After I accepted the fact that I was injured, my first thought was just wanting to get back to my guys -- get back overseas with my guys."

The men and women in the 45th Infantry are like a big family.

It's the close bonds that Donella Hopper said allowed her to get through the stress of her husband being shot while answering the call of duty.

"I'm thankful for the guys who were on the ground with him and were right there to get him taken care of," she said. "They're my family. I'll take them in anytime."

Hopper said doctors are confident he'll regain full control of his arm soon.

Both men said they're thankful to be alive.