Wounded Warrior receives Purple Heart at Portsmouth
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Anna Arndt, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs
PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Naval Medical Center Portsmouth awarded a Purple Heart to a Marine during a ceremony Dec. 29.
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, presented Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Berube the award before a group that included Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command; Berube's wife, Lori; and fellow Marines and Sailors.
Berube, a rifleman squad leader with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was already a veteran of two combat deployments in Iraq when he deployed to Afghanistan in July. He was on a security patrol in the southern Sangin district of Helmand Province Sept. 17. Berube was walking behind three Marines, with others behind him, linking up with another squad in his platoon. While crossing a tree line infested with improvised explosive devices, Berube stepped on a pressure plate IED.
Two Marines near him suffered concussions. After stepping on the IED, Berube had to continue leading his squad, making sure no secondary IEDs were detonated while calling in his own medevac.
The explosion shattered Berube's heel bone and another bone in his foot. His ankle was fractured and shrapnel injured his leg. He immediately underwent surgery at the Camp Bastion Medical Treatment Facility and then medevaced to NMCP, arriving Sept. 22. Despite multiple efforts to save his leg, it was amputated due to complications and tissue death.
"It's nothing that you ever want to get," said Berube of the Purple Heart. "But I'm proud of it; I've gone through a lot. I'm just happy I lived to receive it."
"It's been hard. It's been long," Lori said of the 75 days he spent in NMCP's Orthopedics ward. "You can't change it; you just have to roll with the punches. I'm just so glad he made it home. It could have been a lot worse."
Berube is now staying at NMCP's Fisher House and looks forward to resuming his hobbies as soon as he gets his prosthetic. A native of Florida, he likes the water.
"I started surfing when I was 11, and it's something I've been doing ever since," said Berube, a seven year veteran. "When I get my prosthetic, it's something I plan to try out again and see if it works."
"He's pretty adamant about getting back in the water," Lori said. "With prosthetics now, there's really no limit to what you can do. It's something I can definitely see him doing."