VICTORVILLE. Calif. -- Former Marine Sgt. Adolfo M. Bayardo was presented the Purple Heart by Col. Daniel P. Ermer, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., during a special ceremony at the High Desert Veterans Center in Victorville, Calif., June 27.
Bayardo was accompanied by his wife, three children, parents, in-laws and extended family when Ermer pinned the combat decoration on his dress blue uniform jacket.
Ermer spoke briefly before the ceremony about what an honor it was to participate in the event.
“Having Sgt. Bayardo standing here in front of me so that I can pin a medal on his chest means a lot to me personally and I’m sure his family is also glad he’s standing here in front of us,” Ermer said.
The Purple Heart was first instituted by George Washington in 1782 to acknowledge members of the armed forces of the U.S. who were wounded in action.
In the case of Bayardo, the award came more than eight years after he was wounded in combat during ground fighting in Baghdad.
The 27-year-old Bayardo explained he was engaged in a firefight with the enemy April 15, 2003, and felt something hit him, but just kept on fighting.
“I actually didn’t know the extent of my injuries until I was discharged in 2009,” Bayardo said.
“That’s when I found out I had a 7.62 (mm) round stuck in my neck,” he said.
“(The bullet) is still in there, it’s too dangerous to take out. It’s located right next to my spine at the base of my neck,” the native of Jalisco, Mexico, said.
Accompanying Bayardo were his parents Ramon Bayardo and Maria Medrano.
Bayardo’s father expressed his pride in his son’s actions during wartime and was grateful that his injuries were not more severe.
“I was worried when they first found the bullet, but happy that it didn’t injure him seriously,” he said.
The Marine Veteran’s mother thanked the Veterans Administration for leading the way in getting the Purple Heart presented to her son.
“I’m happy that they’ve helped get my son the recognition he deserves for what he did for his country,” she said.
Bayardo also thanked the staff at the High Desert Veteran’s Center who identified the oversight and helped him to apply for the combat decoration.
“I was happy to put on this uniform one more time and grateful to (the Veterans’ Center) for everything they’ve done for me in trying to help me be a better father, a better husband, a better brother and a better person,” Bayardo said.