Rocky Bleier's Purple Heart

Rocky Bleier's Purple Heart

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In 1968, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Notre Dame running back Rocky Bleier. But, before he could prove himself as a rookie, he was drafted again - this time for combat duty in Vietnam as an infantryman, where he was eventually wounded in action.

On August 20, 1969, Bleier and his platoon were sent to set up a secured landing position needed for helicopters to fly out casualties from an earlier battle. The platoon, almost immediately, fell under heavy hostile fire. Rocky was first hit by enemy rifle fire and later by grenade blasts, seriously injuring both legs.

Bleier, told he'd never play football again, returned to the Steelers in 1970 determined to make the team. In 1972, after three operations and nearly two years of exhaustive rehabilitation, he fought his way back into the lineup, and in 1974, became a starter. A thousand-yard rusher in 1976, he started on all four of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl winning teams, before retiring in 1980 as the Steelers fourth all-time leading rusher.

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