SANFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- Officer Joshua Weldon doesn't remember much. He didn't know he'd fallen to the ground. His partner told him.
"We were together just watching and all of a sudden people come up on us and just started firing," said Weldon. "I remember something just hitting my leg, but I really didn't feel pain yet. I just knew something hit me and I got back up and I started returning fire."
Weldon recalled that late Saturday night on Feb. 22, 2014.
Weldon and Officer Chad McNeill had been sent to a disturbance call at the corner of Boykin Avenue and Fields Drive in Sanford. Shortly before midnight, there were still several dozen teens at the birthday party hosted in a local community center.
Calm turned to chaos within minutes, said Weldon. Two teens, who were reportedly guests at the party earlier in the evening, would be held responsible for opening fire on Weldon and McNeill. Both officers returned fire injuring the teens, but McNeill was not injured.
Darrell Naquan Hill, 19, and Raheem Tyvon Johnson, 18, face a number of charges related to the shooting, including attempted murder.
In the hospital, Weldon said he only had a few thoughts.
"Glad I'm still alive. Glad to see everyone's faces coming to visit and worrying about what my mom's going to say," he laughed.
On Friday, nearly a year after the shooting, Weldon was honored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The group began bestowing recognition upon first responders a decade ago, said Donald Clinger, who is with a Jacksonville-based chapter.
"It's just a very small token of our appreciation," said Clinger, referring to the plaque the group presented to Weldon at the Sanford Police Department. "It's become even more dangerous and they have to become even more vigilant to make sure that they stay safe to keep us safe. Without them there would be anarchy."
Weldon, who credits McNeill with having his back that night, said he knew what he was getting into when he joined the force in 2011. He just never thought he'd be faced with a potentially deadly situation so early in his career.
"I guess now that I'm on the job, I notice more of all the violent action against police," he said, noting it's often a thankless profession.
"I can't really think of anything [else] I'd like to do," Weldon continued. "I got into this job and even considered the circumstances. Even considered people out there every day that are training to kill us. I still come to work and I'm happy to do it."
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Sanford police officer who was shot, injured receives high honor