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N.H. honors 18 for Afghan service

Associated Press / April 27, 2009
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CONCORD, N.H. - A New Hampshire soldier who received a Purple Heart after two tours of duty in Afghanistan says he wants to go back.

Sergeant Michael Savage, 33, was shot in the arm when his Humvee was ambushed while on patrol. He said joining the New Hampshire National Guard five years ago was something he felt he needed to do.

"It's like the best natural drug you ever had," he told the Concord Monitor. "It's a good feeling when you know you're doing something as good as that, for us, for my kids."

Savage was among 18 New Hampshire National Guard members honored at a ceremony Saturday. All had arrived home from Iraq or Afghanistan between October and December.

Staff Sergeant Hoon Nowak of Laconia was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during a firefight in Afghanistan. Military officials said he continued to fire on the enemy after his vehicle was disabled by direct mortar fire.

The ceremony came at the end of a three-month reintegration process designed to help soldiers adapt to life as civilians. Brigadier General Stephen Burritt said soldiers and families should not underestimate the challenge of adapting to life at work and home.

"Now we're transitioning from being that warrior to being a citizen," he said. "This is easily as big a project as training to go to war."