Sumner man awarded the Purple Heart -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sumner man awarded the Purple Heart


November 18, 2007

Sumner -- When you first meet 23-year-old Sumner resident Brian Sawyer, there is no question that he is a humble man.

A graduate of Worth County High School, now an Iraq War veteran, he, like thousands of other service men and women that have risked life and limb, was inspired to serve his country. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18.

"I figured it would be a good way to see the country and the world. After 9-11, that kind of ticked me off, so I figured it would be a good way to get back at that," he said.

But on December 6, 2006, while stationed in Dulav, Iraq, Corporal Brian K. Sawyer came under fire while patrolling along the Euphrates River.

"We were out in the middle of the open on the river bank, and a sniper from a house across the river fired one shot and it went right through my arm," said Sawyer.

Wounded by enemy fire, he continued to fight. He said, "I was shooting with my left hand, and Huggies was wrapping up my arm and I was shooting, covering both of us."

But perhaps more difficult than holding off enemy fire, was making the call to his mother that he had been wounded.

Speaking about the early morning phone call he made home, Sawyer remembers, "I called and said, Mom I kinda got shot. And she screamed, How in the world do you kind of get shot?"

"I pretty much went numb after that, until I could touch him. I didn't get to touch him until Easter Sunday," said Brian's mother Lisa Sawyer. 

In a war that has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 American military men and women, Sawyer's sacrifice drew fears and tears of what could have been a much different outcome.

"It's not just the numbers, that is somebody's family being totally devastated. It just really brings it home when you have someone over there. You live in the normal world, and then you live in the world of your son being in Iraq, and it's not a good place to be," said Lisa Sawyer.

Sunday afternoon, surrounded by family and friends outside of his Worth County home, the soldier from Sumner received one of the military's highest honors, the Purple Heart.

With his mom and dad by his side, and the Purple Heart now close to his own, the memories of Iraq still hang on the dining room walls; a tribute to his service during a time of war.

When asked if she sees her son a hero, Lisa Sawyer says, "Yeah, because he volunteered, because that's what he wanted to do. And when he said he was going to, he said that what I was trained to do, I'm a marine."

After receiving his distinguished honor, Sawyer said, "I didn't really know what to say about it. I'm just real thankful for it."

A humble Marine in his on right, a humbled hero in the eyes of others.

Officers from the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany presented the Purple Heart to Sawyer.

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. military.