Knoxville Army veteran chosen to represent Tennessee’s Purple Heart recipients on trip to West Point

Regional News

(Photo via National Purple Heart Honor Mission )

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville Purple Heart recipient has been chosen as one of the nation’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project honorees.

U.S. Army Captain Robert “Buzz” Buswell will represent his fellow Purple Heart heroes as Tennessee’s representative at a multi-day tribute to the courage and sacrifice of America’s combat wounded.

Buswell is being honored with an all-expenses-paid trip including visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s Headquarters, and a special tour of the newly renovated National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.

“Our Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for America and this is our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of a grateful nation. For some, this will be like the homecoming they never had. We received hundreds of nominations from across the country and we look forward to honoring Buzz for his sacrifice and lifelong service to his community,” said Col. Russ Vernon (Ret.), executive director for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.

In June 1970, then-First Lieutenant Buswell was leading a reconnaissance patrol when enemy forces initiated an ambush with a claymore and small arms fire. Buswell and another soldier were wounded and while being evacuated by helicopter, Buswell was hit again. He spent 19 months in the hospital, underwent 27 surgeries and learned to walk again, twice.

“Be prepared to be surprised. You are going to discover things about yourself and your abilities. You will meet and overcome challenges and be tested in ways you never imagined. Advancement comes from being knowledgeable. Be ready to take advantage of opportunities.”

Buswell when asked what he would tell young Americans about serving their country.

Today Buswell is the Director of Veterans and Senior Services for Knox County, a position he calls “the most personally satisfying part of my life.” His service to veterans includes involvement with the Veterans Regional Mental Health Council, Honor Air Knoxville, and Wreaths Across America.

To learn more about the National Purple Heart Honor Mission or donate to the Purple Heart Patriot Project should visit

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