FORT HOOD — As Capt. Anthony Cucheus looked around a room filled with Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star family members, he remembered the sacrifices made by those wounded in current and past wars as far back as World War II.

“It’s very important that we take time out in our busy lives to remember those who have given before (us),” said Cucheus, chaplain for the 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.

He was among about 250 people who attended the 11th annual Purple Heart Ball on Saturday at Club Hood. The event was hosted by the Central Texas Chapter 1876 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Ladies Auxiliary.

Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza, guest speaker, said it’s important to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“The people here at Fort Hood who serve our country are some of the best people in the whole world,” he said.

For the Vietnam veterans attending, Cucheus said it was important to honor them with the reception they deserved, but never received.

“I was told by a retired sergeant major many years ago that when he came home from Vietnam, somebody spat on him,” he said. “When I came home from Afghanistan, people bought my lunch in the airport. This is an opportunity for me to come out to the generation before me and say, ‘Hey, I appreciate you.’”

He also said it’s important to make Gold Star family members, whose loved ones died in combat, remember they are always a part of the military family.

“It’s never what we say or what we do, but the fact that we’re still there for them,” he said.

Cucheus still stays in contact with the family members of nine soldiers who died during his last deployment.

“I’ve stayed in contact with them over time and I’ve also experienced a loss with losing my nephew in Iraq in 2006,” he said. “I appreciate what these guys and gals have experienced, not only with being wounded, but losing a loved one and never forgetting the sacrifices that have been given.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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