Memorial Day isn’t just about the past and remembering the heroes who have served this country.
It’s also about the future and ensuring that generations to come stand proudly under the red, white and blue with pride, knowing just how much this nation is worth fighting for.
For everyone who puts on the uniform of the United States and serves in every clime around the world or at home, there’s no limit to what they may be called on to do in defending freedom.
Stories from the Frontline
The Purple Heart medal is only given to the very few. It is the oldest military award in our country that is still awarded; over 1.8 million have been awarded since it was created in 1782.
The Purple Heart only goes to those who are killed in battle or wounded and the criteria to receive it are very high.
Sgt. John Chapman
Air Force Sergeant John Chapman was awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery in Afghanistan where he was killed in action in 2002.
Chapman was on a recon mission in mountainous terrain in Afghanistan and fought to the death to save the lives of his team members from Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. His helicopter was shot down by an RPG, throwing a SEAL on the helo out onto the ground among the enemy.
Today we pay tribute to those who gave the last full measure of devotion to protect our Nation. #HonorThem #MemorialDay pic.twitter.com/cYOqvvynng
— Office of the Secretary of the Air Force (@SecAFOfficial) May 31, 2021
Managing to land the half-destroyed helo, Chapman requested another helo to save the stranded SEAL a few miles away. Chapman and his crew then got to the second helo and diverged to go save their comrade in arms; however, the enemy was ready, raining bullets down on them and bringing more fighters.
The fighting was intense but Chapman didn’t back down, pushing through deep snow to charge the terrorists who strafed him with bullets. He kept fighting for over an hour as his body bled out in the snow while his teammates took the mountain and saved the other SEAL.
Rest in peace, Sgt. Chapman.
US Army Specialist Roberto Delgado was born in 1948 in Puerto Rico and grew up in Queens, New York. He was drafted into the army at age 19 and went to fight in the Vietnam War after two months of basic training.
Delgado arrived in theater in 1968 at the end of the Tet Offensive when heavy fighting was sweeping the country. The airfield was even under attack when they arrived.
Arriving with his life already in danger, Delgado made himself a solemn promise: “I am going to survive this war.”
Fighting in Bravo Company with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Delgado and his fellow soldiers were sent into a dangerous region of Quang-Nam province. They were then issued a weapon, new fatigues, new boots and everything.
The origin of “Taps, the distinctive bugle melody played at U.S. military funerals and memorials and as a lights-out signal to soldiers at night, dates back to the American Civil War.
Taps is also how #WeRemember our fallen. #ArmyTeam pic.twitter.com/BeG9SttmI2
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) May 31, 2021
He was put on guard duty when an explosion hit the bunker. The next day on patrol, with dog tags taped down so as not to make any sound, Delgado shot a water buffalo by mistake, thinking it was the enemy.
His Purple Heart came more than halfway through his deployment when Delgado was fighting in the summer of 1969 fighting under a Green Beret commander. Moving to a new location, they passed through an abandoned village. A helo came to deliver them food and the enemy popped up firing at it.
Now Delgado and his team of around 175 were aware of the enemy and exposed. They began to take casualties as the enemy turned on them at dusk and Delgado held a dying radioman in his arms, unable to save him. They retreated but went back out on patrols, with Delagdo one of seven.
#MemorialDay is a day to remember and honor the service members who never made it out of uniform; the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice. #MemorialDay2021 #HonorThem pic.twitter.com/ytiDqkN8fR
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) May 31, 2021
He saw a fire in one of the villages which wasn’t allowed, and then a Vietcong fighter, firing at him..but Delgado was already hit in the arm and in the leg. More Vietnamese fighters came out, unloading on his team, but he didn’t give up. He survived the serious injuries and eventually got a medevac.
Delgado still has PTSD in addition to his Purple Heart, but he feels that many civilians don’t get what he and others went through.
“People need to know what we went through,” he said.
Thank you for your service, Specialist Delgado.
Eternally grateful for those who sacrificed everything for our country.
We salute and thank you. #MemorialDay pic.twitter.com/O4LSmFaxfJ
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 31, 2021
Remembering Our Heroes
I hope the stories above about Sgt. Chapman and US Army Specialist Delgado have helped emphasize the bravery and heroism of our troops.
Our nation will remain strong and united for as long as we look up to those on the frontlines who fight for all of us.