GRANDVILLE, Mich.– Of his many medals from serving in Vietnam, Leandro Lara holds his Purple Heart close to his own.
He received it not that long ago, thanks to his wife, Sharon. She made it her mission. Ironically, it came just before her sudden death.
It’s an award no soldier strives for; one that acknowledges just how far they go to protect their fellow servicemen and women, as well as their country.
It was Vietnam in the late 1960s.
“I was coming back from R and R and I was about 200 meters from base camp and they detonated a mine underneath our truck I was in,” explained Lara.
Six people were on that truck. Lee was one of three to survive.
“I woke up in a hospital,” said Lara. “Threw me right off the truck. We had three casualties. We had a guy who was coming home within three days that got killed, just because he wanted to ride on that truck that day. He wanted to do something.”
The blast blew his eardrums. He wears a hearing aid to this day.
Lee and Sharon were married just 12 short years. She unexpectedly passed away from complications following hip surgery.
But up till then, Sharon worked to get her husband his Purple Heart.
“That was her mission the last year of her life,” said Lara. “And she did it for me.”