Wounded warrior honored with Spirit of Detroit award

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Disabled veterans visited Detroit on Thursday as part of a month-long journey across the country honoring military families and wounded warriors.

Among them, Cpl. Tyler Huffman, a 28-year-old U.S. Marine veteran, has been driving a 2015 Ford F-150 Super Cab retrofitted for combat-wounded veterans who are paralyzed or have lost limbs. Their 28-day “Purple Heart Run” is spanning more than 6,700 miles across the country, concluding in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day. It kicked off Monday in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.

Huffman, a Jefferson City, Missouri, native, entered the Marine Corps in August 2007 with plans for a full career in the service. He is wheelchair-bound after being paralyzed on Dec. 3, 2010, after taking a sniper round to the chest while serving in Afghanistan.

Huffman was honored by Detroit officials Thursday for his service and said he’s joined in the event to show other wounded vets that they have a choice.

“You don’t have to be sitting at home stuck, waiting on other people,” Huffman said during a news conference outside City Hall. “You can go out and enjoy life, travel the world and be the same person you were before you were wounded. There’s nothing that’s going to stop you if you want to do it.”

On Thursday, the truck visited downtown Detroit and planned another stop in Battle Creek before moving to its next state, Huffman said.

Mayor Mike Duggan, Council President Brenda Jones and Councilmembers Scott Benson, Mary Sheffield and Janee Ayers, among others, joined in the ceremony to present Huffman with a Spirit of Detroit award and honor wounded service men and women.

Last year, through the council’s Military and Veteran’s Affairs task force, chaired by Jones, the council adopted a resolution proclaiming Detroit a “Purple Heart City,” paying tribute to those wounded or killed in combat.

“We thank you for everything you have done,” Jones told Huffman on Thursday. “I always say there is no impossible dream other than the one you don’t go after.”

The run, sponsored through a partnership of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Wounded Warriors Family Support, seeks to raise awareness, encourage membership and foster support for Purple Heart recipients of all generations, officials said.

During the journey, the truck will visit other Purple Heart entities and deliver free combat wounded parking signs, which have been placed in parking lots of businesses, churches, schools, government buildings and other venues throughout the country.

Americans are invited to visit the truck and veterans, make a donation toward the trip costs and sign the truck. For information, visit purpleheart.org.