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Special Feature September 10th, 2009

Operation Hero

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Above, medically retired Sgt. Jesus Hurtado, recipient of the Bronze Star, Operation Hero founder and Chair, Lyle Davis, and Steve Vargo, Military Severely Injured Center

The Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club of Escondido honored Army Sergeant Jesus Hurtado at its recent (September 1st) Operation Hero program.

Sergeant Hurtado was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts that successfully saved his captain from a kill zone that would have meant certain death. Sergeant Hurtado received a number of life-threatening wounds, including the blowing away of most of his stomach wall muscles; they have since been rebuilt by medical staff at Balboa Naval Hospital; he is still undergoing treatment, however, and will for some time to come.

He was medically discharged in November of 2007. Steve Vargo, the patient counselor for the Military Severely Injured Center, has been following him since January of 2006 (Nearly two years prior to his medical military discharge). He has worked with him around his multiple surgeries, and had been witness to his ongoing severe pain, physical and psychological. Vargo reports Sergeant Hurtado has always been positive even when things were all going wrong. Vargo has seen his mother sit quietly by his side while he laid unconscious in the ICU unit, and worse, while he was moaning with pain.

Sergeant Jesus Hurtado and his officer in charge approached a suspicious vehicle while on patrol in Iraq. He helped pull his Captain out of the kill zone before the suicide bomber triggered the explosion. Sergeant Hurtado has vivid memories of that episode.

Jesus is the recipient of the Bronze Star for his actions that day. He will be physically disabled for the remainder of his life and will require more surgeries to his stomach in the near future. The nightmares continue as does the battle with the associated demons.

Vargo says, “I have always maintained a high degree of respect for this soldier. As I mentioned despite all that has happened to him he maintains a positive attitude. He very much loves his family (especially Mom) who have been there for him every step of the way. Despite being 100% disabled by the VA this man has gone back to work. (To help maintain his own sanity, but additionally to one day purchase a house for his Mother).

His story is long and painful both physically and psychologically but he was not, and is not beaten!

Jesus was actually one of my first service members when I started this job, and I still follow him and his care.”

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Above, Left to right, Hidden Valley Kiwanis Club President, George Lentulo, Sergeant Jesus Hurtado (ret), his mother, Operation Hero Founder and Chair, Lyle Davis, and Steve Vargo, Patient Counselor Advocate, Steve Vargo, Military Servere Injured Cente

 

 

 

 

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