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Posthumous purple heart awarded to MN soldier killed in Fort Hood massacre

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The North St. Paul soldier among those killed in a mass shooting at a military base in Texas was awarded a posthumous purple heart Thursday.

Pfc. Kham See Xiong was one of 13 people killed when Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the Fort Hood base on Nov. 5, 2009.

And at the third annual Hmong-American Day celebration on Harriet Island Thursday, the Pioneer Press reports Xiong's widow Shoua Her accepted his purple heart, which honors soldiers wounded or killed in the line of duty.

Also at the ceremony were Xiong's children Kaylee, 10, Devyn, 8, and Jonah, 6, with hundreds of others witnessing the medal being awarded.

It marks the end of a long battle by the families of those killed at Fort Hood to get their loved ones honored with a purple heart, after they did not initially qualify as the shooting was considered "workplace violence" by the Department of Defense, the Killeen Daily Herald notes.

But a provision passed earlier this year that made victims of attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations eligible for the medals.

The Hmong-American soldier was preparing for a combat tour in Afghanistan when the shooting occurred, with the TC Daily Planet reporting he was assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Batallion.

In the wake of his death, then-Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered U.S. and Minnesota flags flown at half-staff in remembrance of Xiong and others killed and wounded in the massacre.

The Hmong-American Day held at Harriet Island Regional Park was the third such annual event in the Twin Cities, honoring the contributions of the Hmong people to America during the Vietnam War and since then in the United States, the event's Facebook page says.

This year is a particularly noteworthy one for the Hmong in Minnesota, given that it is 40 years since their migration to the state, which is being marked with a special exhibition at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.

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