AUGUSTA — Pfc. Adam Moreau, who survived a bomb blast in Afghanistan that killed two of his fellow soldiers, was awarded the Purple Heart personally by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Moreau’s mother, Donna Moreau, said her youngest son was just 10 feet from the improvised explosive device when it exploded Aug. 30.

He and other soldiers were working to clear a roadway of explosives while on patrol near the Arghandab river valley, outside Kandahar City.

Donna Moreau said they had safely found five other explosive devices. Then the sixth exploded. It killed the 24-year-old Moreau’s staff sergeant and his lieutenant, who his mother said was one of his closest friends. Afghani translators were also injured.

Moreau suffered a concussion and ruptured ear drum and took shrapnel to his face, neck and arm. He was airlifted to Kandahar Air Field for medical treatment.

While there, the Augusta native was awarded the Purple Heart personally by a visitor to the base — U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — in September.

Moreau said in a news release from the Army that he felt honored Gates took the time to present an award to “just a regular soldier.”

“It feels good to know that he cares about all of us soldiers and that he recognizes and supports all the hard work we are doing on the ground here,” Moreau said in the release. “I’m just a regular soldier. I wake up, go to work and do my job. When I look at this award, it will remind me of my team, and all we have been through, not me, and all I have been through.”

Moreau has since rejoined that team, choosing to return to his unit and continue their mission in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Alex Faiivae, team leader for Moreau’s company, said he could have chosen to go home and support the unit from the rear but instead chose to return to his unit.

“That’s Adam, that’s his moral character,” Donna Moreau said. “He’s back with his platoon and they’re continuing their fight against the Taliban.”

Adam’s 25-year-old brother, Brian, is also a private in the Army and currently serving in Afghanistan.

Donna Moreau, of Augusta, said her sons both chose the Army for a single reason — their late dad, Richard, who died in 2006, was an Airborne Ranger in the Army during the Vietnam War era.

“I know why both my children chose to join,” she said. “They wanted to be like their dad. I’m extremely proud of them both. Their father would have been, too.”

Moreau occasionally talks with both her sons via satellite phone, but said the connections are horrible. She said she jumps every time she hears her the phone ring.

Adam was only 28 days into his stint in Afghanistan when he was injured.

She last saw him Aug. 2, when his unit was flying overseas from Colorado and the flight stopped in Bangor to refuel.

“I spent about two hours with him, between 3 and 5 a.m.,” Donna Moreau said. “It was worth every second.”