Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars

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Fort Carson honored 18 soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment on Friday for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Fourteen of the soldiers received Purple Hearts for injuries received while in combat. The other four got Bronze Stars for their duty in Iraq.

For Specialist Shawn Lavalley, it was the second time he’s accepted a Purple Heart. The first came seven months ago. But that did not keep him home very long. Seven days after returning to duty, he was injured again. "I wanted to go back to get this war over with."

Staff Sergeant Aurelio Dudley was aboard the Chinook helicopter that went down in November. Four other Fort Carson soldiers died in that crash. “ I never thought I would receive one---I never wanted this to happen to me or my soldiers," he said.

Four other soldiers received Bronze Stars, including Sergeant First Class Miquel Reyes. "So glad to be home with my family---it's an honor"

It's an honor that soldiers certainly do not work for, but it is a special moment when the medal is pinned on their uniform. “I wish some of my fellow comrades could see me get it. They joke about it, but I'm proud to receive it---fighting for my country,” said SPC Omar Lopez.