- Posted June 18, 2013 by
Toa Baja, PR
Korean War Vet posthumously awarded Purple Heart after 63 years
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed. For the Korean War 136,936 soldiers were awarded the Purple Heart.
Ssgt. Nieves Carrillo Navarro was born on May 15, 1901 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. At about age 21 he enlisted in the Military Reserve at Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, PR. During the outbreak of WW II in 1940 he joined the 65th Infantry Regiment's 2nd Battalion's that had been reactivated and sent to Salinas Training Area for intensive jungle training till 1942. During WW II as a member of the 65th Infantry Regiment he was deployed to Africa, France and Germany.
Immediately upon returning to Puerto Rico in 1946, the 65th Infantry Regiment was reorganized and the 2nd Battalion was sent to Camp O'Reilly and later to Henry Barracks, Cayey. For the next few months they received intensive training at Salinas Training Area and participated in the Atlantic Fleet Exercises of 1948, 1949 and the PORTREX (Puerto Rican Excersize) maneuvers of 1950 on the Island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
On the morning of the August 27, 1950 the first group of the 65th Infantry Regiment left the port of San Juan, PR to pick up troops in Panama Canal Zone, leaving the day after for Japan. After arriving at Sasebo, Japan they were rerouted to Pusan, South Korea where they arrived on September 23, 1950.
Ssgt. Nieves Carrillo's son Vietnam Veteran Roberto Carrillo who was 7 years old on October 17, 1950, couldn't understand what had happened to his father. He was told that North Korean soldiers had entered a Mess Hall killing 17 U.S. Soldiers and that his father Ssgt. Nieves Carrillo was one of them.
He was too young to know that his father had been killed and the casket covered by an American Flag held his fathers remains, during the ceremony at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery (PRNC). “It was not until my later years I realized what had happened, but I just couldn't understand it, I couldn't grieve. It affected my mother so much it really hurt her and to know he was just 49 years old made it worst.”, explained Roberto.
Vietnam Veteran Roberto Carrillo visited his fathers grave, Sgt. Nieves Carrillo, at the PRNC to place on his father's grave the Korean War Service Medal and the Purple Heart awarded posthumously 61 years 9 month and 2 days after his death. Roberto explained, “I can't stop grieving now”, as tears ran down his cheeks. “My father was a military professional, he loved serving in the military. He entered military service before I was born and he was a member of the 65th Infantry Regiment during WW II and Korean War.”
Roberto also visited the “Wall of Rememberance” (Monumento de Recordacion), that stands behind the Capital Building in Old San Juan, to find his fathers name inscribed on the wall along with the names of those soldiers Killed in Action from all Wars and Conflicts. “He can now Rest in Peace!”, he said as he touched the name “Carrillo Nieves”.