EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A World War II veteran injured in 1944 when he was struck by a German tank in France was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart on Friday in a West Texas ceremony.
Relatives of Army Pvt. Juan C. Marquez accepted the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars awarded to him posthumously, Fort Bliss officials said. The honors come decades after Marquez suffered shrapnel wounds, broken ribs and a separated shoulder during the war.
Marquez was discharged in 1945 but died three years later in an accident. He left behind a wife and four sons.
His relatives worked to find the right documents to prove he deserved the honors. They say they made unsuccessful attempts for years and were frustrated before the Army agreed to award the medals.
Antonio Marquez, one of the soldier's children, previously said Friday's ceremony would bring closure to the effort to see his father decorated. It also justifies the hardships the family endured after Juan Marquez's death, when Antonio was 9 and his youngest brother was 8 months old, he said.
His father had been a welder and machinist at a local business. But after he died, the family moved to San Elizario, a small border town where they subsisted on their mother's wages and the father's Social Security and Veteran's Affairs checks.
Antonio Marquez said his father didn't request the decorations after being discharged because he was "a very humble man."