TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A Tallahassee Purple Heart recipient has been chosen to be one of the nation’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project Honorees.
U.S. Army Colonel Washington Sanchez (Ret.) of Tallahassee, a Vietnam War veteran, was chosen by the Purple Heart Honor Mission on Thursday to represent fellow Purple Heart heroes as Florida’s representative at a multi-day tribute to the courage and sacrifice of America’s combat wounded.
The Purple Heart Patriot Project is a program of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. The all-expense-paid trip includes visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s Headquarters, a special tour of the newly renovated National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and other tributes to service.
“Our Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for America and this is our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of a grateful nation,” said Colonel Russ Vernon (Ret.), Executive Director for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.
Sanchez was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Florida A&M University. At the time of his commissioning, he was the school’s only Distinguished ROTC graduate and the recipient of a Regular Army Commission in April 1964.
During his 27 years in military service, Colonel Sanchez was stationed at bases throughout the U.S. and around the world including twice in Germany: first, as Commander of an Artillery Battalion; and, later as Commander of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, the largest training center in Western Europe.
When asked what his military service meant to him, Colonel Sanchez said, “It meant the world to me. It made my life worth living.”
In addition to his Purple Heart, Colonel Sanchez’s personal awards include Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters and “V” device, Meritorious Service Medals with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Medal.
In 2016, he was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame. In 2020, he was inducted into the Army ROTC Hall of Fame and selected as a Tallahassee Senior Citizen of the year. Colonel Sanchez is the 2020 Patriot of the Year for his Chapter, the Department of Florida, and Region IV of National MOPH.
Colonel Sanchez also serves as the President of Tallahassee Veterans Outreach, a non-profit organization that is involved in the State’s veteran’s community.