NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Sergeant Candelario Garcia Junior had to wait beyond death to get the proper recognition. Nearly 50 years after serving in Vietnam the North Texan finally received the military’s highest honor.
Officials at the White House say Sgt. Garcia was among two-dozen veterans whose contributions were overlooked because of their race.
“It’s sad that it took so many years for this to be the way it is today,” said Sgt. Garcia’s sister, Mary Garcia Conner. “It’s very sad.”
As a final tribute Sgt. Garcia’s remains were moved at DFW National Cemetery and placed near a hill.
The Corsicana veteran was also given a Medal of Honor headstone with gold lettering.
Mary Garcia Conner, the ever-dutiful older sister, couldn’t pass up a moment to say a few words at his gravesite. She told the crowd the words she spoke to her long-deceased brother.
“I said, ‘It’s terrible that you are not here and home with us. We had our differences, but I loved you and I’m proud of you.’ And that’s what I said to him.”
Sgt. Garcia fought heroically in 1968, saving his entire platoon during an attack in Vietnam. His unit was under heavy fire and several men were wounded and trapped. Ignoring the raining bullets Sgt. Garcia crawled to within 10 meters of a machine gun bunker.
According to officials with the U.S. Army, while firing his rifle, Sgt. Garcia ran right toward the enemy — killing them all.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt. Garcia received dozens of awards including the – Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart.
“I got a big lump right here,” said Sgt. Garcia’s brother Manuel Flores pointing to his throat. “I can’t explain how I feel about it. He’s a war hero, but first and foremost he’s my brother. I love him very much.”
Sergeant Candelario Garcia died on January 10, 2013. His family says they never knew what he did in the war, but they understand now.
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