SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Mayor Ben Walsh announced that Syracuse is becoming a Purple Heart City. There will be signage around the city to honor not just Purple Heart recipients but all those who served in combat.
102-year-old Manny Martinez Jr. is a World War II veteran. Manny enlisted in the U.S. Army and then volunteered for an elite specialized combat group. Manny’s son recollects his father’s final mission.
“They were moving into that area to do their work, and they were surrounded by machine gun fire on three sides. There was a firefight for at least several hours. I believe only four of the 14 who went in survived. He being one of them,” Manny Martinez III said.
Manny went on to rescue fellow soldiers while wounded and under fire. Later, he would receive the Purple Heart for his actions.
“It’s something that he is proud of. That he earned the accommodation, and he never put it like, ‘Hey, look at me. I have a Purple Heart.’ That was never ever,” Martinez III said.
The Purple Heart is an award of great distinction, but to Manny, he was just doing what he felt he needed to do.
“He’s had several recognitions for which he was reluctant. He was like, ‘Why me? You know, I was just one of the guys who tried to help.’”
While Manny is not someone who craves recognition, it is essential that he and all those who have served receive it.
“We need more of that not as a massive award and a look at me, but just as a recognition of a type of appreciation, and a thank you for what these folks did and the sacrifices that they made, you know, being in the threshold of maybe not returning. And that’s a great commitment one makes in their lives knowing the risk that you may not come back,” Martinez III explained.
An era of volunteering and commitment. A generation of greatness.
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