California Guardsman receives Purple Heart during Rivercats game ceremony

5:33 PM, May 4, 2011   |    comments
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  • Spc. Israel Luna received the Purple Heart medal during pregame ceremonies at West Sacramento's Raley field.
  • Spc. Israel Luna, recipient of the Purple Heart medal at Raley Field in West Sacramento.

SACRAMENTO -- The California National Guard honored one of its heroes before Wednesday's River Cats game during a Purple Heart ceremony. The ceremony recognized the sacrifice of Spc. Israel Luna, who served in the global war on terror.

PHOTOS: Purple Heart Ceremony at Raley Field

The Purple Heart was first established by Gen. George Washington, then-commander in chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and is the oldest award still presented to U.S. service members. It represents presidential recognition of those who have been wounded or killed while serving with the U.S. Armed Forces.

"Specialist Luna's sacrifice serves to remind us of the risks inherent to service with the National Guard," said 1st Lt. Will Martin, Guard public affairs officer. "We often associate the National Guard with state and community service, but at any given time there are thousands of California Guardsmen serving in harm's way. Specialist Luna brings that truth home for us."

In addition to Luna, the River Cats hosted about 250 soldiers from the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit. The CBWTU was established to assist soldiers who were wounded or injured during military service, most during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Sacramento-based CBWTU allows service members to receive medical care and counseling while living close to home and the support of their families.

Due to Spc. Luna's injuries, he was unable to speak at the ceremony. But his happiness was evident and he gave the "thumbs up" signal throughout the day.


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