Community rally to honor Purple Heart Heroes

Posted 9/28/21

Purple Heart Heroes from across America will be greeted with a star-spangled welcome home at a public rally in Newburgh that will serve as the capstone event for the National Purple Heart Honor …

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Community rally to honor Purple Heart Heroes

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Purple Heart Heroes from across America will be greeted with a star-spangled welcome home at a public rally in Newburgh that will serve as the capstone event for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project.

The rally is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, September 30 at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center. Doors will open at 5:00 p.m.

The event will feature performances by the West Point Brass Quintet and Sergeant Major MaryKay Messenger. Those wishing to attend the rally can RSVP with a message of support and thanks to our Purple Heart Heroes by visiting www.PurpleHeartEvents.org.

The rally will also feature a special Genesis Legacy Medal presentation ceremony for U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Purple Heart recipient and TV personality Johnny Joey Jones, a nationally recognized veterans advocate.

Jones joined the Marine Corps in April 2005 and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008 before being sent to Afghanistan in March of 2010. On August 6, of that year, he and his explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team were searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Helmand Province. After the team cleared a device, Jones stepped on an IED suffering severe damage to his right forearm and both wrists and lost both legs above the knees as a result of the IED explosion. Jones has used his personal story of overcoming adversity as a source of inspiration for fellow veterans and all Americans.

A multi-day tribute to the courage and sacrifice of America’s combat wounded, the Purple Heart Patriot Project provides wounded-warriors with an all-expenses-paid trip includes visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s Headquarters, a special tour of the newly renovated National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and other tributes to service.

“These incredible men and women are true American heroes,” said Richie Lay, a Purple Heart recipient and chairman of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. “From Korea to Vietnam, Haiti and the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan, this year’s Patriot Project honorees have defended freedom around the world. Our nation’s Purple Heart veterans have given so much to defend us and that sacrifice must always be remembered. We are privileged to be able to provide this unique salute to service for our Purple Heart heroes.”

“Our Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for our country and its people. This is our opportunity for the Hudson Valley and all Americans to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of a grateful nation.  Now more than ever this nation must pay tribute to their sacrifice. For some, especially our Vietnam veterans, this will be the homecoming they never had,” said Col. Russ Vernon (Ret.), executive director for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.

This year’s class of Patriot Project honorees includes Thomas Tanaka, a Hawaiian who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950 and received the Purple Heart after he was wounded by a North Korean mortar round. Louisiana’s Patriot Project honoree, Sgt. Albert Lirette, earned four Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam. Another 2021 honoree, Steven Zerger of Colorado, is a retired Army Sergeant First Class who was grievously wounded-in-action during his fourth combat tour in Vietnam while leading his platoon into a desperate firefight. Washington Sanchez, Florida’s honoree, served 27 years as an Army officer, including combat in Vietnam where he received his Purple Heart as a Forward Observer.

Those wishing to learn more about the National Purple Heart Honor Mission or donate to support the Purple Heart Patriot Project should visit PurpleHeartMission.org.

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