OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Purple Heart is an honor soldiers receive for injuries they sustain or die from on the battlefield.
On Monday, a war veteran who now calls Oklahoma home waited a decade for his purple heart.
“It’s surreal right now. I gave up at one point to try to search for it, to try to get it and to have it actually come, it means a lot,” said SGT Carl Fastiggi.
In 2011, then-Specialist Fastiggi was fighting with the California Army National Guard in Iraq. He was a member of the 640th Aviation Support Battalion, Company B at Camp Taji, Iraq.
The incident happened around 1:55 p.m. when Camp Taji came under rocket fire.
SPC Fastiggi ran for cover in a nearby hanger and was hit in the head by debris. Shortly after, he reported to the medical center with a severe headache; he was evaluated and determined fit for duty.
“At the time, he did get medical care and such, but all the records weren’t done and weren’t made complete on it,” said Senator James Lankford.
Fastiggi was diagnosed with a delayed concussion and still suffers from severe headaches and pain.
His lost paperwork caused a more than 10-year delay. It was Senator James Lankford and his office’s behind-the-scenes work that made this moment come true.
“To finally be able to move it from behind the scenes to getting it done in just the last couple of weeks to receive the Purple Heart that we could pass on and pin on them that he’s earned,” said Lankford.
Fastiggi started the process of applying to receive his Purple Heart in 2012. There were no records of Fastiggi being in the blast zone. He worked for a decade to gather the paperwork necessary to receive this award.
SGT Fastiggi contacted Senator Lankford in January with his request of seeking a Purple Heart for injuries sustained.
Senator Lankford’s office contacted the Department of the Army and received Fastiggi’s Purple Heart (permanent order and certificate) and DD-215 (Correction to Report of Separation to reflect the award) in February, according to Senator Lankford’s office.
The Purple Heart acknowledgement was a decades-long journey until Monday. SGT Fastiggi was finally recognized for his sacrifice.
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do when I was a little kid was to join the military and serve my country,” said SGT Fastiggi. “It’s a great honor to be able to join my brothers and sisters in arms with this.”