Purple Heart Veterans honored by City of Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- The city of Jacksonville honored veterans bearing purple hearts with a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Wall Thursday. August 7th marks Purple Heart Day across the country.

Marion Bankhead is one of those veterans who received his military royalty, in the shape of a purple heart. Bankehead earned three purple hearts during his service in Vietnam.

"If I had to do it, I would do it all over again," said Bankhead.

Bankhead was born in Alabama and then moved to New York for high school. During his senior year, he fell in love with the Marine uniform and he signed up to volunteer. Days later, he was called to service in 1965.

"They took me out of school, they said we need you now so I went to Parris Island and my brother had to get my diploma," said Bankhead.

After training, he quickly found himself in battle in Vietnam and soon after that, he found himself in a near-death situation.

"We were acting as a blocking force and we were hit by 10,000 Vietnamese soldiers...and we were hit hard," said Bankhead.

Bankhead says a round of rockets and mortars erupted and send shards of metal into his skull.

"Blood was shooting out of my head and the corpsman said there was not anything he could do for me," said Bankhead. "[He told me that] I was going to die."

However, with a Bible on his back, he used prayer to get him through the situation. Bankhead said he knew he would not die in Vietnam.

He was taken to the hospital by helicopter and he recovered- slowly. His wound could have sent him back home for good, but he had his own reasons for sticking it out and no one knew his reasoning.

"I had a baby brother in the air force and I didn't want him entering the country so I volunteered to stay in," said Bankhead.

During the rest of his service, he was injured twice more in battle and earned two more purple hearts.

Bankhead said he lost his best friend in battle, a scene that still haunts him to this day.

After serving three years, nine months and 11 days, he returned to American soil.

"It was a hard time. I suffered from PTSD and sometimes along the road you feel like giving up...but I fought that," said Bankhead.


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