WASHINGTON – Two soldiers receiving Purple Hearts at Walter Reed Army Medical Center called Afghanistan a "forgotten war" being fought with not enough troops, supplies or support from the American people.
Army Spc. Jesse Murphree, 20, of Westminister, Colo., lost both legs to a roadside bomb on Dec. 27 in northeastern Afghanistan.
"Every day we were getting shot at," he said in an interview after receiving his Purple Heart on Friday. "And you hear about other people in Iraq, they got shot at a couple of times. We're like, we've been shot at every day.
"You start thinking you're fighting a forgotten war, like no one's paying attention. I went home on R&R before I got hurt and people were coming up to me, they're like, at least you're not in Iraq and stuff, and I was looking at them, and I was like, what? And they'd say, you don't do, they called it battle, they're like, you don't do battle anymore? And I'm like, are you kidding me? Like, yeah, I do," Spc. Murphree said.
"I know the area our unit's at is definitely hot and definitely feels they're forgotten about, like the people think that Afghanistan is really not a big deal or nothing's really going on. We still got people that are dying, we still got people that are getting hurt."
Army Pfc. Justin Kalenits, 24, of Geneva, Ohio, who was wounded in a Nov. 9 ambush in the Waygol Valley of Afghanistan, echoed Spc. Murphree's sentiments.
"It's a battle," he said. "There's not enough troops there. Need a lot of troops. Our unit's stretched really, really thin. There's not enough stuff. We're doing a lot of fighting over there. We're getting hurt. It's not good. So, I'd like to see it end. Definitely."
Iraq – a different story
Another Purple Heart recipient, Army Cpl. Taylor Harter, 20, of Fernandina Beach, Fla., was more upbeat about the war in Iraq. He was wounded Jan. 19 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
"It's going good," Harter said. "Sometimes when times get hard, you miss your family. You just wish you could go home. At the same time, you know you got to get the mission done."
A fourth Purple Heart recipient, Army Staff Sgt. Kristopher Mitchell, 29, of Calcium, N.Y., who was wounded by a roadside bomb in Kirkuk, Iraq, declined to be interviewed.
John Rutherford is an NBC News Producer based out of the Washington, D.C. bureau and is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.dailynightly.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com/.