37 Marines, Sailors Awarded Purple Hearts

Award Recipients Part Of Battalion That Returned From Afghanistan In March

Thirty-seven Marines and sailors were awarded Purple Hearts during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton on Tuesday.

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The 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment – which is made up of about 1,100 men and women – returned from Afghanistan in March after a seven-month deployment.

The 37 men proudly wore the symbol of sacrifice on their uniform, yet each seemed more humble than the next.

Capt. Eric McElvenny stood tall during the ceremony.

"It's named correctly with the heart," he told 10News. "It comes from the heart and it meant a lot getting it."

McElvenny, who lost part of his right leg during the deployment, came back to the United States after four months. This was his third deployment.

"I'm part of the Afghan National Advisor team, so I was working with Afghan soldiers and I stepped on an IED," McElvenny said.

He added, "It's bittersweet. It was hard coming back early from deployment."

It seemed that the hardest part for many was leaving fellow Marines behind.

This was Staff Sgt. Jacob Maxwell's fifth deployment and his injury was worthy of the award.

"This is the fifth IED I've hit been by," Maxwell told 10News."I took some 'shrap' metal to the back and legs but I'm lucky still… I love my job. I love the camaraderie. I love taking care of the Marines and building that bond with them. I want to make sure they're taken care of."

Sgt. France Mahabub – who was also an award recipient – said he was one of the lucky ones despite his injuries.

"We lost a few guys over there that I wish were still here," he said.

Mahabub was in the lead vehicle during a security patrol in the Helmand Province when they hit an IED, or improvised explosive device.

"I would do it again," Mahubub said. "For the camaraderie, for the guys to the left and right of me [and for] the fact that I'm doing this so hopefully one day my son wouldn't have to."

McElvenny said he would also do it again in a heartbeat.

"The toughest part, honestly, was being away from the battalion when they were finishing their deployment," he said.

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