Military Honor

98-year-old Marine veteran injured at Battle of Okinawa receives Purple Heart nearly 75 years later

Shouts of “Oorah” echoed Friday when a 98-year-old World War II Marine Corps veteran received a Purple Heart nearly 75 years after he was injured in combat.

The battle cry was for Anthony “Tony” Procassini, who served during the bloody Battle of Okinawa during World War II, according to the Detroit Free Press. The mortar crewman suffered a blast concussion on May 14, 1945, and spent weeks recovering.

Procassini was joined by more than 25 relatives at the Fort Dearborn, Michigan, American Legion post ceremony, reported.

“I’m sorry that Dawn, my wife of 74 years, couldn’t be here to share this moment with us,” Procassini said of his wife, who died in 2018, according to MLive. “We know the process of 75 years was a long time, but it was worth the effort because it gave me the opportunity to share the results with my grandchildren.”

The couple had settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after the war, and had nine daughters and a son, according to his wife’s obituary. Procassini also was a businessman who retired at age 93.

The Marine Corps veteran had submitted paperwork for his Purple Heart when World War II concluded. When it never came, he continued with his life ― until a few years ago when family inspired him to file paperwork, MLive reported.

But there were still delays. Procassini and other World War II veterans reached out to then-Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller, a Michigan native, who helped expedite the bureaucratic process, according to the Detroit Free Press.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., attended the ceremony, along with some veterans who served with Procassini in the Pacific, according to MLive.

Procassini expressed his gratitude to the Marine Corps and his country.

“What I say is Semper Fi and God Bless America,” he said, according to MLive.

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