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Trump visits Walter Reed military hospital — then gives wounded vet top award in surprise ceremony

President Donald Trump awards the Purple Heart to a recently wounded veteran during his first visit to Walter Reed military hospital. (Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Saturday to visit with wounded military servicemen and personally award the Purple Heart to an Army sergeant who recently lost half his leg in Afghanistan.

The Purple Heart medal went to Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded in action in Afghanistan on March 17, according to the Associated Press. The Purple Heart is awarded to any military service person wounded or killed in combat.

"When I heard about this I wanted to do it myself," Trump told Barrientos during the brief ceremony. Barrientos' wife, Tammi, and first lady Melania Trump were also present at the ceremony.

The award ceremony came during Trump's first visit to Walter Reed, which is a frequent stop for presidents who meet with wounded veterans. According to reports, Trump also met privately with an additional dozen or so veterans at the hospital.

Trump arrived at the hospital, only about 10 miles north of Washington, via his presidential motorcade instead of Marine One, which presidents typically take on the short trip to the hospital. The AP reports that Trump took the motorcade so not to disturb tours going on at the White House.

While on his way to the hospital, demonstrators, many who had come to Washington for the "Earth Day" science marches, lined the streets to protest Trump.

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