President Trump on Saturday awarded a Purple Heart to an Army sergeant recently wounded in Afghanistan, the first of many Trump likely will award during his service as commander in chief of the US military, the AP reports. "When I heard about this ... I wanted to do it myself," Trump said during a brief ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The medal went to Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded March 17 in Afghanistan during what is now America's longest war. It was Trump's first visit as president to the military hospital. His wife, first lady Melania Trump, joined him.
Barrientos, whose right leg below the knee had been amputated, was brought into a hospital atrium in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife, Tammy. Trump kissed Barrientos' wife before pinning the medal on the sergeant's left shirt collar. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed in action. Besides Barrientos, Trump was expected to meet privately with about a dozen service members who are receiving care at the medical center. Before leaving the White House, the president tweeted that he looked forward to "seeing our bravest and greatest Americans." Trump's decision to allow news media coverage of the medal ceremony was in sharp contrast to former President Obama, who awarded Purple Heart medals during his regular visits to Walter Reed but always did so behind closed doors.