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World War II vet honored with medals at age 91

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http://www.heralddemocrat.com/articles/ ... tate08.txt

By Associated Press

CORPUS CHRISTI — A World War II veteran who carried two injured comrades from a snowy French battlefield to safety will be honored Thursday, 60 years after his honorable discharge.

Enrique Rios Salazar, 91, served with the military’s 36th Armored Infantry Regiment in Europe and Central Africa from 1944 to 1946. After suffering frostbite on the French battlefield, he received an honorable discharge and returned to his South Texas home.

The military mailed a Purple Heart and other medals to Salazar, but he was never formally honored. On Thursday, Abel Chapa, the Nueces County veterans service officer, will present Salazar with seven medals, including a Bronze Star.

“We had to get this done to give him the military funeral he deserves,” Missy Garcia, Salazar’s granddaughter, told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for its Thursday edition.

Salazar’s family began seeking recognition for Salazar six months ago, including getting a seal affixed to his tattered discharge paper.

Chapa said its not unusual for World War II veterans to be overlooked when it comes to formal honors. The military has been behind for decades, and thousands of discharge records were destroyed in a 1970s record center fire, he said.

“Thousands of World War II veterans have been shortchanged,” Chapa said.

After returning from the war, Salazar married his wife, Esther, and worked for the city of Corpus Christi as an emergency pipe-fitter. He kept the original map of the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment’s major operations on a wall of his home.

Four months ago, Salazar was diagnosed with lung cancer four months ago and has received 36 radiation treatments.

“He’s always been willing to do what he must to live,” Garcia said. “He’s a true survivor and a humble hero.”

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