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Trump awards Purple Heart at hospital

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BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Saturday awarded a Purple Heart to an Army sergeant recently wounded in Afghanistan.

"When I heard about this and I wanted to do it myself," Trump said during a brief ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington. He awarded the medal to Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded in Afghanistan on March 17. The White House did not release Barrientos' hometown.

It was Trump's first visit as president to the military hospital. He was joined by his wife, first lady Melania Trump.

Barrientos, whose right leg below the knee had been amputated, was wheeled into a hospital atrium in a wheelchair, accompanied by his wife, Tammy.

Trump, who is also commander of the U.S. military, kissed Barrientos' wife before pinning the medal on the sergeant's left shirt collar. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who are wounded or killed in action.

Besides Barrientos, Trump was expected to meet privately with about a dozen service members who are receiving care at the medical center.

Before leaving the White House, the president tweeted that he looked forward to "seeing our bravest and greatest Americans."

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Associated Press 2017

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