A neighborhood World War II veteran who fought in Italy, Africa, France and Germany was honored for his service last week – 63 years after the war ended.
The brief recognition ceremony was held in State Senator Carl Kruger’s office on Avenue U Wednesday following a clerical snafu for the record books.
“Better late than never, I guess,” 85-year-old Frank Marsala joked after he recruited Kruger’s help in officially presenting him with the honors he had recently received in the mail.
Marsala was injured in combat back in 1943 as he scrambled to save a soldier who had gotten stuck on some barbed wire surrounding his team’s foxhole during a heavy enemy bombardment.
He had also gotten hit with a shell, which, thankfully, happened to be a dud.
While the details of his injuries are a bit fuzzy 63-years later, he distinctly remembers the letter he received from the U.S. Army explaining that the paperwork for his Purple Heart had been destroyed in a fire.
Fast forward six decades. The New Jersey native is now living in Sheepshead Bay, his home of 50 years.
Out of the blue, he receives another piece of correspondence from the Department of Defense, claiming that they had found his records, which apparently weren’t destroyed. His Purple Heart, as well as his Bronze Star, Rifleman’s Badge and other honors, would soon be delivered to him.
Marsala received the medals, but his family believed that the government owed him more than a wrapped parcel and a thank you card.
“My nephew told me, ‘Uncle Frank, those should have been presented to you,’” he said.
After receiving no assistance from the local VA hospital, the aging soldier marched the medals up to Kruger’s office, where the staff was quick to take action.
“I pass his office all the time and never had the nerve to go in,” he said. “When I went in Tuesday, they told me to come back the next day with the medals.”
When he arrived the next day, there was Kruger ready to right a 63-year-old wrong. There were also several cameramen to mark the occasion.
“Frank Marsala served his country with courage and dignity. These qualities, like the medals they signify, are timeless,” said Kruger, who is a member of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee.
“Receiving these medals after so many years was very important to me,” the old soldier said. “It was a great feeling…something I wasn’t expecting.”