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Captain Brandon Pearson (left), inspector instructor for the Marine Corps' Military Police reserve unit in Wahpeton, N.D., pins the Purple Heart medal on Sergeant Aaron Fuller's dress uniform at a ceremony Sunday at the New Richmond National Guard Armory.

Aaron Fuller honored with Purple Heart

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About 200 people turned out for a patriotic ceremony honoring Sergeant Aaron Fuller of New Richmond.

The former Marine Corps member was presented with a Purple Heart during a brief gathering at the New Richmond National Guard Armory on Sunday afternoon.

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"It was quite overwhelming," Fuller said. "It was a nice ceremony."

Fuller was injured in Fallujah, Iraq on Dec. 20, 2005 while on combat patrol with his unit.

His vehicle struck a mine and Fuller was knocked unconscious after the explosion. He suffered a severe ankle injury and broke his clavicle.

Despite his injuries, Fuller and his fellow Marines had to scurry for cover to prepare for an expected enemy ambush.

Family and friends helped to pack the armory Sunday. Fuller was joined at the event by his wife, Monica, and their five children (Daniela, 9; Blessing, 6; Kamila, 5; Michael, 5; and Evalyn, 3).

A long list of military community organizations were also on hand for the event. Among those represented were the Military Police Company, Wahpeton, N.D.; Patriot Guard; VFW Post 10818, New Richmond; American Legion Post 80, New Richmond; Stillwater VFW Post 323; Marine Corps Junior ROTC, Como Park, Minn.; Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 0005; Legion Post 21, River Falls; Scout Troop 140, Hudson; Leathernecks; VFW Post 7929, Amery; Legion Post 169, Amery; FRA Vikings 136; VFW Post 2115, Hudson; Patriot Sons; and the Ninth District VFW commander.

State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) attended the event and spoke briefly.

"We're proud of you," she told Fuller. "This is an opportunity to say thank you. We have the freedoms in this country because of people like you."

Fuller is a 2001 graduate of Baldwin-Woodville High School. He joined the Marine Corps in January of 2005 and attended boot camp in San Diego.

After he finished training as an anti-tank gunner, Fuller was deployed to Iraq in September of 2005.

A few months later, he would be injured in combat. Fuller eventually returned to duty, then completed his first Iraq tour in April of 2006.

He returned to the states and was stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif. He was later assigned to Camp Pendleton Advance Infantry Training school to gain more combat training.

Fuller returned to Fallujah, Iraq for a second tour of duty.

Following his return to the states in 2007, Fuller's previous injuries were evaluated, surgery was performed to his ankle and he was then asked to report to the Wounded Warrior Battalion in 2009. He was medically retired at sergeant rank on July 30, 2011 after serving with the Marines for six and a half years.

Fuller received his Purple Heart in the mail, but Fuller father, Faron Duller of River Falls, felt a formal ceremony should be planned to present the honor. The New Richmond VFW stepped up to coordinate the event.

Fuller's decorations include the following: Purple Heart; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal (W/2 Stars); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2); Combat Action Ribbon (Iraq); Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (2); Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation; Navy Unit Commendation; Certificate of Commendation; Rifle Expert Badge (3rd Award); and Pistol Expert Badge.

Fuller and his family moved to New Richmond recently. He plans to attend the small engines program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond in the fall.

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