Marine Pvt. George Haddad finally received the Purple Heart he deserved this week. His a story was 66 years in the making, all because of a book-keeping error decades ago.
While the World War II veteran was fighting in the battle for Iwo Jima, he suffered a concussion from a blast in the midst of the fighting.
“I was there roughly about seven or eight days. I think we were taking the second airport at that time, and then everything fell down around me,” said Haddad.
The reason it took so long for Haddad to receive his medal is the lack of documentation so many years ago.
“Basically, he just got his bell rung really good in about day 8 of the battle and no one bothered to put it down in the record books,” Lt. Col. Dave Dachelet said.
Haddad’s family, friends and fellow Iwo Jima survivors gathered at the National Iwo Jima Memorial in New Britain on Wednesday, surrounded by the red, white and blue and the names of those who didn’t make it out alive.
Haddad said the date, Sept. 21, also has special meaning to him.
“I was discharged from the Marine Corps on this same day in 1945,” the 89-year-old recalled.
Haddad said his Purple Heart was well worth the wait.
“I’m really happy I finally got the medal from them for what I did,” said Haddad.
The veteran turns 90 years old next Wednesday and said he’s happy things have been sorted out.
Now, he’s hoping his ceremony will draw some much-needed attention to a park dedicated to those he served alongside. So are members of the park board.
“We have to maintain our landscaping and we have the eternal flame. We rely mainly on donations from the public,” Mark Adamski, a park board member, said.
Those who turned out for the award ceremony said it’s an easy way to thank veterans like Haddad who did so much for our country.
More information on Connecticut's National Iwo Jima Memorial is posted on the Support Our Survivors of Iwo Jima Web site.