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Korean War vet receives Purple Heart 60 years later

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The family of the late Sgt. 1st Class (retired) Alepio Solmirin was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal for combat injuries he sustained during the Korean War.

Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army Pacific, presided over the ceremony June 1 at historic Palm Circle here, which included the reading of the official orders signed by Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

"Wounded severely in Korea, burned, his family remembered that growing up, but he had never been awarded the Purple Heart, and was probably indicative of him that he never brought it up," Wiercinski said. "He didn't need to be awarded or given awards. To him it was part of his duty. But to us (the U.S. Army) its part of our duty to make sure our heroes are recognized," said Wiercinski who pinned the Purple Heart medal onto a picture of a young Solmirin.

In 1952, then Pfc. Solmirin was a rifleman with the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fighting in the Soman-Myon Valley of South Korea. On the night of July 11, 1952, Solmirin was wounded by enemy artillery fire during a ground attack. Solmirin was evacuated with severe burns to his body.

After his convalescence, Solmirin remained in the Army serving in the Vietnam War where he was awarded his second Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Air Medal, and Bronze Star for gallantry.

Due to an oversight, Solmirin was never credited for his combat injuries until today. Solmirin retired from the Army after 25 years of service and has since passed away.

"During my father's passing, I promised I would not stop trying," said Adam Solmirin, the second oldest of five children.

Solmirin made numerous attempts to correct the oversight, but to no avail. Wiercinski intervened and with the help of his staff, tracked down the missing records. "There are no words, no gifts that can express the appreciation for what you have done for my dad. It's absolutely priceless," said Solmirin who addressed a crowd of over one hundred family members, friends, and Soldiers.

Today's award is in keeping with the time honored tradition of never forgetting the sacrifices made by Soldiers, and recognizing the contributions made in service to our great nation.

Article by Russell Shimooka, Army.mil