Wounded WWII vet to get posthumous Purple Heart, Bronze Stars
EL PASO — A World War II veteran who was injured when struck by a German tank in France will be posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze stars on Friday after a decades-long effort by his family in Texas.
Pvt. Juan C. Marquez was deployed shortly after enlisting in 1944, the same year he suffered shrapnel wounds and later broken ribs and a separated shoulder when hit by an enemy tank. He was discharged in 1945 but died upon being hit by a car in 1948, leaving behind his wife and four young sons.
One of his sons eventually looked at his father's Army documents, and seeing that it stated he had been wounded in combat, the family began digging. His relatives — including his granddaughter, now a state lawmaker — worked to find the proper documents to prove Marquez deserved the honors.
“There were several attempts made to gather all the information,” including the death certificate and the discharge papers, said Rep. Marissa Marquez, who plans to attend the ceremony to honor the grandfather she never met.
The family made several unsuccessful attempts to convince the Army that he deserved the honors and then reached out to U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.
The late soldier's son, Antonio Marquez, said Hutchinson helped get the process to fruition — and the Army finally agreed to award the medals.
“We shouldn't have to ask and scrape around for this medal,” Marquez said, adding that his father was a humble man and didn't request the decorations upon being discharged.