If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.

— Emily Dickinson



Maj. General Harold A. Cross, adjutant general of Mississippi, said when dark times come and he feels like giving up, he will remember Sgt. Robert Shane Pugh.

"When I think I've done enough at the end of the day, I will do a little more because I will think of Robert Shane Pugh," Cross said. "Robert Shane Pugh's life was not in vain."

Cross spoke to about 150 people Saturday at the National Guard Armory in Meridian, where Pugh was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal. The Silver Star is awarded to Pugh for exceptional display of heroism and selfless service during military actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pugh's wife, Amanda, his mother, Wilma Allen, and his sister, Jennifer Hill, were each presented with a Silver Star in Pugh's memory.

Pugh died March 5 from injuries he received when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle.

A news release by the adjutant general's office stated that following the incident, without regard to his own injuries, Pugh, a combat medic, instructed others how to treat his fellow injured soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Ellis Ray Martin, who survived.

Because of Pugh's "brave, heroic actions in combat," he was awarded the Silver Star, and is the only soldier in the 155th Brigade Combat team to receive the honor. Cross said the Silver Star is the third highest honor that can be bestowed — the Silver Cross and the Congressional Medal of Honor being the highest.

Pugh's mother, through her tears, said she was honored by the ceremony. Having the support of her son's fellow soldiers has made all the difference, she said.

"He was just being himself," Allen said. "That's who he was. He liked to help people. He became a medic so he could help people."

His wife agreed. She said she was glad so many people came out to show their support.

"It was nice and emotional, but it was something that he deserved," Amanda Pugh said. "The community cares so much."

Pugh also was presented with her husband's dog tags during the ceremony.

Sgt. 1st Class James Kees, a member of the Army National Guard's 155th Infantry, based in McComb, was Pugh's battalion chief. He said Pugh was assigned to the unit because of a shortage of combat medics.

Kees said combat medics are also known as "91-Whiskey." He said Pugh was not deterred even after another combat medic was killed in the line of duty, and Pugh was a hero long before he helped save Martin's life.

"His death hurt me a lot," Kees said. "But even after he got hurt once by spraining his ankle, he couldn't wait to get well and go back out again. He tried to not let anyone go outside the wall without a medic."

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