NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A war hero from Corsicana, overlooked for many years, is about to receive the military’s highest honor.
Sergeant Candelario Garcia Junior, a decorated war veteran, was passed up for the honor for several decades.
Manuel Flores, Sgt. Garcia’s brother, spoke of all the awards received by his sibling. “The Bronze Star, the Silver Star, Purple Hearts with clusters. He was a great soldier. He was a great man. He was a great brother.”
Members of the North Texas family say they never knew what, Sgt. Garcia did to earn those prestigious medals.
“I like to tell you we knew everything about my brother,” Flores said admitting, “We didn’t know nothing about that.”
Flores is finally getting a glimpse into his big brother’s heroic past. He says Sgt. Garcia never talked about his three tours in Vietnam, but recently the Army started talking.
What had gone unsaid all of these years was the fact that Sgt. Garcia saved what was left of his platoon through bravery and determination. His unit was under heavy fire with several men wounded and trapped.
Ignoring the raining bullets Sgt. Garcia crawled to within 10 meters of a machine gun bunker. According to Army officials, while firing his rifle Sgt. Garcia ran right towards the enemy — killing them all.
“He did this to save his men,” Flores said proudly, while also noting that his brother was never the same after Vietnam. “You may have built a solider, but you took my brother. I remember when he went to the military and I remember when he came back. He never came back — part of him came back. [It was] the part I could visibly see, but the part where his mind was I didn’t know anything about.”
Nearly 50 years later, veteran Sgt. Candelario Garcia Jr. will be receiving the Medal of Honor posthumously from President Barack Obama.
The Garcia family thinks their relative was overlooked for so long because he was Hispanic.
“I think it’s the absolute most wonderful thing in the world,” Flores said. “I’m just sorry that he was not here to be able to accept it.”
Sgt. Garcia died last year and his ashes are now buried with full military honors at DFW National Cemetery.
Flores said the years after war were the hardest and his brother suffered from alcoholism and PTSD. “He tried to keep up the strength to be that brave solider,” he said wiping away tears. “I cry for him now because I don’t know what else to do.”
Sgt. Garcia was a hero for his generation now his family is grateful he’ll be honored by the next generation.
The Garcia family is now hoping to work with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Corsicana to create a memorial.
President Obama will honor the bravery of Sergeant Candelario Garcia Junior on March 18.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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