American Legion presented medals to WWII veteran

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Sgt. Raymundo Martinez Jr. misplaced his seven medals he received more than 60 years ago for serving in the Asiatic-Pacific campaign and on Sunday received a second set of medals from the American Legion Post 186.

"It means a lot," said Martinez with tears in his eyes. "I've waited for a long time."

Martinez, a tech sergeant and World War II veteran, served with the U.S. Army from Jan. 6, 1942 to Nov. 11, 1945. His tour took place in Ryukyu and the Aleutian Islands in Japan in the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign.

Martinez received the Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with the Japan clasp, Marksman Badge with a rifle bar and two Honorable Service lapel buttons. The medals were shipped from a national stock center in Philadelphia, Pa.

The medals were in a display frame and given to Martinez by Humberto Garza.

Garza said the medals can only be pinned on Martinez by an U.S. president, congressman or commander of a military branch. The government is able to re-issue medals if they are stolen, misplaced or were burned down in a fire.

About 70 veterans and their families attended the reception Sunday at the American Legion hall with the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary providing sandwiches, salads, desserts and drinks.

Martinez becomes the 16th recipient for whom Garza has ordered medals. He has issued medals for veterans from several wars including Vietnam, World War II and Korean.

"He is a patriot that gave his love to his family, God and a strong America for the freedom for those who have fought for it," Garza said "Freedom has a taste the protected will never know."

Martinez was born in Randado in Jim Hogg County and was raised in Hebbronville before moving to Alice where he has lived for more than 40 years. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston at the age of 22.

Martinez is a life member of the American Legion, VFW and St. Joseph Church Mutalistas and he is an active member of the United Veteran's Burial Association.

After the presentation, many of the veterans shook Martinez's hand and congratulated him.

"I'm going to frame (the medals)," he said.