San Diego

5th Marine Regiment Purple Heart Memorial Unveiled at Camp Pendleton

Some of the most decorated Marines were honored Wednesday during the unveiling of a memorial at Camp Pendleton.

The new 5th Marine Regiment Purple Heart Memorial honors those wounded and killed in combat.

During the ceremony, Purple Heart recipients were escorted by the Marines currently serving in the 5th Marine Regiment.

The Purple Heart, the oldest badge of honor, is awarded to members of the armed services who died or were wounded in combat.

"This monument today is a testament of not just our combat wounded Marines and our fallen Marines, it pays tribute to our veterans, it pays tribute to men and women who have pledged to something greater than themselves and defending our great nation," said Col. Ken Kassner, Commanding Officer of the 5th Marine Regiment.

NBC 7 spoke with some Purple Heart recipients who said the ceremony was meaningful and emotional for them. 

"When you're in a war, you're not thinking about yourself, you're thinking about the Marine to your right and the Marine to your left and make sure they're taken care of and safe," said retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Major Martin Vasquez.

Vasquez told us he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. 

The ceremony was held on former President George Washington's birthday, since he was the one who first introduced the Badge of Military Merit. The Purple Heart was announced on President Washington's 200 birthday.

Contact Us