VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Purple Heart Ceremony at VAPAHCS
After 42 years, the family of Sgt. Merle Dentino, a soldier killed in Vietnam, was presented a Purple Heart at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System on Nov. 11 during a Veterans Day celebration. Sgt. Dentino’s sister, Teresa Dentino, accepted the award on behalf of her brother.
His family, friends and a few comrades that fought next to him were also present at the event.
“What makes this story so significant is that his comrades banned together nearly 40 year after the fact to get Merle his richly deserved Purple Heart award in 2009 when we found out he never received it,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Michael Christy, who was the commanding officer at the time of Sgt. Dentino’s tour in Vietnam.
For the longest time it was believed he was killed by friendly fire, explained Christy, but these “loyal comrades” came together to set the record straight by letting the Army know that the enemy was present during his death.
VAPAHCS Associate Director Walt Dannenberg gave opening remarks at the event, giving a special mention of the family.
“I want to recognize the family and friends of Sgt. Merle Dentino, who courageously gave his life in Vietnam, and after 42 years, will be posthumously presented the Purple Heart medal,” said Dannenberg during his remarks.
The Purple Heart is one of the highest honors a member of the U.S. Armed Forces can receive and is awarded to those who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action, according the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s website.