It's normally awarded to injured soldiers in combat, in a matter of days. But one soldier had to wait months for his Purple Heart. 35-year-old Mississippi Army National Guard Corporal James Carl Sampson was injured last September when his convoy hit a land mine. He was flown to Germany in critical condition.
Saturday Congressman Gene Taylor apologized to Sampson and his family, on behalf of the nation, for taking so long to bestow this honor. An error in paperwork delayed Sampson's recognition as a soldier wounded in combat. Taylor joined representatives from the military as they pinned the medal on the injured soldier's chest.
"He's always been a patriot, he really has. I remember when he first got out of high school one of the first things he did was enlist in the Marine Corps," brother Clint Sampson said.
He's Corporal James Carl Sampson or 'Carl' to his family and friends. A land mind in Iraq took his left eye and almost killed him. With his family nearby, he received the Purple Heart and a plaque which reads:
For Mississippi Army National Guard Adjutant General James Lipscomb it's a bittersweet day.
"Recognizing a soldier for the sacrifice that they've made is the sweet part. The bitter part is to see a soldier who has many days ahead to recuperate to become a normal citizen," Lipscomb said.
Not long after the injury Lipsomb presented the Mississippi Magnolia Cross to Sampson while at Walter Reed hospital in Washington. It was there he learned that Sampson re-enlisted to go to Iraq with the 890th engineering Battalion, after hearing the group was deploying.
"Our country has benefited greatly from soldiers such as Carl Sampson, and it's soldiers like Carl Sampson that make a difference in defending the freedoms in defending the greatest country in the world," Lipscomb said.
Wife Carrie and son Brody stand for pictures along side Carl's brother Clint. Holding Carl's hand, it's hard for Clint to hold back the emotion--emotions for the tragedy, and emotion for the pride he sees in the brother who did so much.
"My family has lost a brother before and we're going to fight because we knew we weren't going to lose Carl. He's not going to allow that to happen either. I'm very proud of what Carl's always done, I've always like following in his footsteps. He's always challenged me to be better," brother Clint Sampson said.
Sampson is currently recovering at the Biloxi VA. His family said he may be there for the next six months From there, he'll go to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for reconstructive surgery. Family members say it will be a long and challenging process.