Congressman Lance Presents Purple Heart to Clark Resident Sal Waters
Waters had yet to receive his Purple Heart after a 2008 injury in Afghanistan.
Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) held a special ceremony on Tuesday honoring Sergeant Salvatore B. Waters (U.S. Army, Retired) of Clark for his service in Afghanistan. During the event, Lance presented Waters, who served in the 101 Airborne Division of the United States Army, with the prestigious Purple Heart. Members of Salvatore’s family, including his wife and two daughters, attended the event.
Waters has served in the military for 35 years, first in the Army enlisting in 1972 and later as a reservist. On Nov. 18, 2008, Waters was injured from a rocket attack while serving in Afghanistan. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and severe hearing loss.
"What happened was when I was initially wounded they give you one, but they give it to you just until they put the orders in for the official one," Waters told Patch. "I went to VA for treatment for when I came home and I was more concerned with treatment than following up on the medals order."
Waters, 58, has lived in Clark since 1997 and has felt compelled to serve his whole life, reenlisting and volunteering for the reserves out of retirement. He was deployed in Desert Storm and the War on Terror and was also stationed in Panama.
Waters reserve unit was mobilized to go to Iraq in February of 2008 but Waters couldn't go with them because of a shoulder injury. He completed physical therapy until getting the okay to be deployed, thinking he would join his unit in Iraq, but he was sent to Afghanistan instead.
"In Afghanistan, during my first week on patrol on the defense line, we were trying to penetrate and thought I found an IED (improvised explosive device)," says Waters. "At the time, my NATO commander told us to keep going, but I refused. I said we’re staying. To make a long story short, I disobeyed orders and it was in fact an IED. Finding that made me feel like I really was meant to be there, in Afghanistan, at that moment."
Even after his injury, Waters wasn't ready to go home. He convinced superiors to let him stay abroad, moving to Bagram, Iraq until March 2009.
Healed from his injuries and home since 2009, Waters says, "My wife is happy because now I’m finally retired permanently."
Congressman Lance’s office routinely helps veterans and service members receive their lost, stolen or never before awarded service medals. If you know someone who needs help in obtaining their earned service medals, please contact Lance’s Westfield office at 908-518-7733 or his Flemington office 908-788-6900 for assistance.