Marine Lieutenant Colonel Sean Riddell described the Purple Heart as not an award of honor, but as an award of remembrance as he pinned it on a soldier. Staff Sergeant Charles Boyce received a Purple Heart on Sunday at the Marine Corps Reserve Training Center.
"I'm grateful for the recognition," said Boyce. "I was just doing my job."
In front of a modest crowd in Bakersfield, his Bulk Fuel Company unit awarded him with this special honor. Lt. Col. Riddell says he also wears the Purple Heart and received his wounded heroes' medal after being hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) like Boyce was.
"The Purple Heart is often referred to as the medal you never want to earn but you always wear," Riddell said.
Boyce was a man of few words at his ceremony. His commanding officer called him a "silent warrior." It was last summer in Afghanistan when Boyce's vehicle was hit by an IED. He was on a convoy moving equipment when he was struck and another explosive went off moments after.
He suffered two Grade 2 concussions causing confusion and post-traumatic amnesia. He barely remembers the accident and considers himself lucky.
"There are a lot more people who get a lot worse injuries from IEDs," said Boyce. "It comes with the job, unfortunately. I have no regrets and if they need me to go back out there I will."
Boyce flew home to Bakersfield nine days ago where he was greeted with applause at Meadows Field Airport. He is a 32-year-old father of two but says none of his family could make it to his pinning ceremony since they are all overseas. He hasn't even told his mother about his Purple Heart. He says he's adopted, and she's 84 years old, living in Hawaii, and he didn't want to freak her out.
"I don't want to worry her more than I have to," he said. "Unless when I'm in front of her and say here's the Purple Heart and as you can tell, I'm okay kind of, so I'm good."
Boyce said he plans to visit his mom soon so she can inspect him. He joined the Marine Corps in 2000 and plans to serve at least eight more years. For now, it's back to work, and he says nothing has changed.
"I'm still the same Marine," said Boyce. "I'm still going to be there for my Marines, and I don't expect any different treatment and I'm not going to treat them any differently."