World War II Vet From Brick Recieves Purple Heart Seven Decades Later
It may have come almost seventy years after the fact, but for World War II Veteran Daniel Passarella, receiving his Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the Allied Invasion of Normandy is a triumph-for him and his family.
However on Thursday, former Army Private First Class Passarella was finally awarded his much deserved medal by Congressman Chris Smith only weeks before Passarella celebrates his 90th birthday. He was surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and wife of over sixty five years, Passarella proudly and tearfully displayed his Purple Heart.
“I’m thankful for this and I know my children are I’m happy that I’m still here from June 6th.”
Passarella was struck in the shoulder and knee with shrapnel while storming Utah Beach, when he returned home he asked the military if he would be sent the Purple Heart- if they felt he was entitled to it.
He never received an answer, however for Passarella returning home was all he wanted and didn’t think much of it.
“They sent me all the medals except the Purple Heart, so I said I didn’t get my Purple Heart.” But as Passerella remembers “I didn’t really care about the Purple Heart at that time. I cared that I was back and it didn’t bother me at all.”
Sixty eight years later one of Passarella’s grandchildren approached Congressman Smith to see if the veteran could get the recognition they all felt he deserved.
Smith’s office resubmitted documentation to prove that Mr. Passarella was in fact wounded while part
of the 101st Airborne Division and its Glider Infantry. Smith wrote to Major General Fredrick Hodges at the Department of the Army about the case, providing all of the information including a copy of his honorable discharge issued from the hospital, a telegram sent to his mother informing her of the injury, and others.
Smith note’s it’s not uncommon for veterans from that era to not receive the medals many of them they rightly deserved.
“Many records were lost, over the years. Matter of fact there was an infamous fire in St Louis and I used to chair the veterans committee and time and again we’d run into a lack of information of information because of that fire.”
For Passarella however seeing the small room in the Congressman’s office packed to the gills with family who worked tirelessly to make sure his legacy will be continued properly.
“I’m glad I got through this, I never expected this, and I appreciated it from all of you to take your time in doing this.”