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Vet Gets Purple Heart Expedited

SOLON, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- SSGT Steve Durr was awarded a Purple Heart on Friday in a bit of an unusual circumstance -- the process was sped up thanks to one of Durr's close friends ,who also happens to know Rep. Dave Loebsack.

"I didn't expect it 'til they called me. And said they were going to present me with this medal Friday at 9:30 and I said, 'Swell.' And I said, 'Where?' They said, 'Your house.' I said, 'My house?' I said, 'That sounds good to me, if they can find the place,'" Durr said.

And find it, they did.

Surrounded by his family, Durr finally got his Purple Heart.

"Pretty honored, (I) feel pretty special that I'm still around to enjoy them," Durr said.

"He might not be with us long, so we had to work really hard to get this done and that's really how this happened," Loebsack said.

Durr got his Purple Heart because he was injured during Vietnam. His plane was hit by enemy fire, and he was hit in the shoulder.

"But it could have been over this way four inches, and I probably wouldn't be here today," Durr said.

Be Durr is here, with his two sons and six grandchildren, who had their own awards for their grandfather.

"It's a picture of the Purple Heart, and it says 'I love you,'" said Durr's granddaughter Delainey Durr.

And for sharing in that love, Durr credits the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Iowa City. Durr's shoulder injury wasn't the only wound he brought back from Vietnam. The second would only show up decades later, because Durr was exposed to Agent Orange.

"Well, I got lung cancer, and they removed the tumor, but they can't get it all," he said.

The cancer moved to his brain, where neurosurgeons operated in November. But during a scan, more cancer was found in Durr's chest, and he was forced to start chemotherapy. He counts this as the hardest battle of his life.

"Cancer's pretty tough, because you're kind of fighting a ghost. It keeps moving around, you know?" Durr said.

But maybe the blow was softened on Friday, by a little recognition, and a lot of family.

"It's a big deal. It's a big deal. There aren't a lot of Purple Hearts," Loebsack said.

"He means a lot," Delainey Durr said, hugging her grandfather.

Durr really wanted to make sure the doctors, nurses and staff at the VA Hospital got recognition. He said they deserve the same level of honor he got.

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