AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts Purple Heart recipients were honored in Agawam Saturday.
Western Massachusetts Purple Heart Veterans were recognized in a ceremony at Agawam Senior Center Saturday as part of a dedication for the Purple Heart Trail.
CDR Brian Willette told 22News, “As living recipients of that medal our duty is to perpetuate the memory and history of those who did not live. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice on the Battlefield. That is our mission today.”
The Purple Heart Trail is a national system of roadways dedicated to the sacrifices of Purple Heart recipients.
Fifteen Purple Heart trail signs will be placed along the roadway from the Connecticut State line down Main Street in Agawam representing the service members that were wounded in action or paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
General George Washington, the man in which the Purple Heart derived from, traveled the route in which the signs will be placed. Seven other signs with the names of sponsors will be posted as well.
“I’m just glad I’m here.”
Phillip Gerard earned two Purple Hearts while serving as a Sgt. in the U.S. Army in the Philippines during WWII. “It was very bad, we lost a lot of friends,” said Sgt. Gerard.
John Hurley was a marine in Vietnam. He earned his purple heart when the North Vietnamese Army attacked his company disguised as fellow marines. “One ran by our hole that I was with two other marines and he threw a satchel charge in our hole and one marine was killed, another marine was wounded as well as I was. I was blown out of the hole and I had my ear drums blown out and I had shrapnel all over my back and legs,” said Hurley.
Hurley said it’s important to teach younger generations to appreciate the freedom others fought for. “Very proud to have my name on a sign and I have a son who lives here in Agawam and as my grandchildren drive by they will be able to see my sign and my name up there forever,” said Hurley.