Purple Heart Veterans React to Deaths in Afghanistan
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The tragedy in Afghanistan was on the minds of a group of veterans meeting in Fresno Saturday. All of us are troubled by the deadliest single day in the Afghanistan conflict. But the deaths especially hit home for those who've fought and survived in war.
These combat Veterans are members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The medal is awarded to military personnel who are wounded in combat. "We don't look to get wounded, it just happened that we got wounded and that's part of war you know. You don't know who's the one gonna be the next person wounded killed."
Cruz Cuellar is an Army Veteran, wounded in the Vietnam War. He and the others at Purple Heart Day ceremonies held at Fresno's Veterans Administration Hospital were moved by the news of the deaths in Afghanistan. "It's sad to hear that kind of news but we hate to hear we are losing more men out there and women," Pete Rondero, a former Marine wounded in World War II said.
Rondero also served in the Korean War. He sees the loss of the highly trained SEALS as especially sad. "And when it came to the SEALS it really hurts because those people are very specialized in doing their duty and applying themselves to their mission. It's amazing God bless them."
"Terrible, terrible, it's a tragedy. I wish we weren't even having this war but it's a necessary evil." Those are the words of Gil De La Pena. He is a former Marine, wounded in the Korean War. He's commander of this group, which works to help other veterans.
"We have guys they have a lot of problems, combat wounded veterans they don't all have Purple Hearts, I mean a lot of guys that are wounded or hurt in the service, we try to bring them out of their little shells."
Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are among those being helped, and Gill is among those here who think it's time for those wars to be over. "For my part, yes, I'm not speaking for the Purple Heart I'm speaking as a person. Yes, I think it's time to come home."
The local members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart were meeting as part of the annual ceremonies , to mark Purple Heart Day, which is Sunday.
afghanistan, fresno, fresno county, iraq, local, gene haagenson
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