A strong sense of patriotism was in the air at the Madera County Board of Supervisors meeting, as veterans and the community gathered to honor 88-year-old World War II veteran Martin Medelin.
"It's great," said Medelin. "It's something I never expected."
Just a few weeks ago, the Madera veteran was surprised with the Purple Heart award, 69 years after being shot by a German sniper on the French battlefield.
"I got shot," said Medelin. "I'll never forget it. It was New Year's Day 1945 and it's been that long since they've been trying to get that Purple Heart for me."
His friends worked for years and had to overcome a lack of paperwork to get Medelin the honor. Madera County supervisors say it's important to remember the greatest generation.
Madera County Supervisor Rick Farinelli said, "If we do not remember our WWII vets our grandkids, our great grandkids, our country will never be the same."
Medellin served in the army for seven years, received a Silver Star medal - the second highest military decoration for valor, and a Bronze Star. Fellow veterans were thrilled to see their brother receive a hero's honor.
VFW Past Post Commander Bill Jones said, "You saved the life of over 283 American fighting soldiers, then you deserve the best this country can give to you and that's what Martin did."
God bless America, my home sweet home. An American hero, who finally has the recognition, he deserves.