For the past several months the Sergeant Major of the Army has been speaking to groups about his visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals to see soldiers injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. The story involves the SMA and a visit by the President of the United States. The SMA and the President have never visited soldiers at the hospital together. The SMA's story of President Bush's visit to one particular soldier was relayed to him by one of the Special Forces soldiers in the hospital that day.
On one visit he spoke to a young special forces soldier who lost his hand in an accident involving a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. As he was leaving, the soldier stuck his limb to the SMA and SMA Tilley gingerly shook the bandages to not injure him further. He presented him a coin and said "God Bless You."
The same soldier was visited several days later by the President, who was awarding medals to many of the wounded soldiers. The soldier stuck his limb up to the President as he was leaving, and President Bush cupped his limb with both hands and said "God Bless You." He then knelt down and kissed him on the forehead.
The story that is spreading around the internet is a well-woven embellishment of the SMA's story.
MSG Richard Puckett
Public Affairs Advisor to the Sergeant Major of the Army
Office of the Sergeant Major of the Army