DIAMOND BAR, Calif. — Nexen Tire America Inc. is honoring the nation's Purple Heart recipients by sharing some of their stories online as part of the Nexen Hero Program.
Through a nomination process, one Purple Heart recipient will be given a 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport S on Aug. 7, National Purple Heart Day. The Nexen Hero nomination period runs through July 24.
Nominees must be a member of the Military Order of The Purple Heart. The Jeep Gladiator recipient will be selected by members of the Purple Heart Foundation based on a variety of factors, including heroism, sacrifice and an ongoing commitment to their community.
"One of our primary goals, in addition to giving away a Jeep Gladiator, was to help be a voice for our Purple Heart recipients and what they have done for this nation. These heroes went into harm's way to defend the very freedom we enjoy as Americans and we are eternally grateful for their sacrifices," said John Hagan, executive vice president of sales for Nexen Tire America.
"We wanted to show our immense gratitude for all Purple Heart recipients' sacrifices, and a big part of this campaign was to use our voice on multiple media platforms to help bring even more awareness to the stories of valor as told by Purple Heart recipients themselves."
Nexen said veterans' friends and family members have been submitting hundreds of stories of how their Purple Heart recipients were severely injured in combat operations and what the veterans have gone through to heal and rebuild their lives following attacks that nearly claimed their lives.
Through these stories, the veterans share what they remember about the actual incident and what their lives are like today.
In nearly all cases, Purple Heart recipients struggle daily with many severe physical and mental challenges, the company said. However, instead of succumbing to these conditions, the individuals interviewed by Nexen Tire have chosen to live full lives and be active in their communities.
Nexen Tire representatives sat down with these individuals to record their stories and has posted the stories in a playlist on its official YouTube page.
Some of the receipients interviewed were:
Marine Cpl. Steven Diaz
Last year, Nexen Tire honored retired Cpl. Diaz with a custom 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T 392 Scat Pack after hearing his story of courage and perseverance following a deadly Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack.
Cpl. Diaz was conducting combat operations in Iraq in 2005 when he was severely wounded by an IED explosion which left him with permanent effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and a seizure disorder.
Although he is now medically retired from the military, he has used his experiences and recovery process to dedicate himself to helping other veterans suffering from similar injuries.
As the co-founder of Hidden Wounds, an organization designed to help those suffering from TBI and PTS, Cpl. Diaz helps "heroes battle the invisible war at home" where he currently serves as its chief operating officer and program manager.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Ruttman
Staff Sgt. Ruttman and other members of his unit were hit by an IED during a classified mission and he suffered shrapnel injuries to his back, neck and head. Though he suffers from permanent scars, he said he's glad to be alive.
"That Purple Heart medal is a badge of honor. When they asked me to go fight, I went and fought; and I feel it every morning when I get up. For me to receive that medal is an honor; it's an absolute honor, and I wear it with pride now," he said.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Matthews
While on a mission in Iraq, Sgt. Matthews recalled one minute driving a Humvee and the next waking up in a hospital, four weeks later.
"When the first bomb went off, all I remember was the vehicle spinning," he said of the ambush that hit his unit. "I got on the radio, screaming and yelling, and began calling out what was going on. The front vehicle [exploded], and then the second vehicle [exploded], and that's all I remember."
He suffered from shrapnel wounds to the head, neck, chest, left arm and left leg. He was also shot in the neck, suffered from two separate breaks in his jaw, a fracture on his right arm and completely tore his rotator cuff and shoulder.
"Everybody has scars; some are physical, some are mental, some are hidden deep, deep away; but everybody has scars in their lives. And so, for me, the scars just represent whatever was trying to take me out wasn't strong enough to do so," he said.
Today, Mr. Matthews spends most of his time trying to make a difference in his community.