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On Purple Heart Day, a group of veterans look back at their 60-year friendship

Posted at 10:57 AM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-08 11:57:14-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Saturday morning at Sherrill Veterans Memorial Park, veterans and their families gathered to pay tribute to Purple Heart recipients.

Those service members who are given a Purple Heart medal of honor are thanked for their sacrifice while serving in the US military.

Skylar Barker, a Marine Corps veteran, and leader of the local chapter’s military order of the Purple Heart was in attendance.

Barker said he wants people to know the life and death fight veterans have faced and the decisions they have made for our country.

“Next, what does the Purple Heart mean? I believe it is a metal that no one really wants. For some it means the enemy won, he got one over on me. For some, it’s a constant reminder that I survived but my friends did not,” he said.

Purple Heart commemoration ceremonies will continue tomorrow.

Every year a group of veterans get to gather to see each other as their 60-year friendship is still going strong.

Every year, on Purple Heart Day, longtime friends Ram Chavez, Robert Callejo, and David Castro talk. They remember the good times and the bad times. Their love for music is just one thing they have in common.

“We were kids together, went to high school together. We were born around the same time and we’re still friends,” said Chavez.

Buddies since 1962, they graduated from Roy Miller High School, and soon after all three friends went their own way.

Yet, they were at the same place at the same time; fighting in Vietnam.

“I get hit in the forehead and survived and David gets wounded in his hand and survived. He almost loses his hand. Then he gets wounded and he’s in a coma,” said Chavez.

A near-death experience they lived to tell. It was 30 years later, that they realized how connected they really are.

“We knew we had Purple Hearts but never paid attention to the dates until then. That’s when we realized we were still together and all wounded together,” Chavez said.

Chavez was wounded May 6th, 1968.

Castro was wounded May 7th, 1968.

Callejo was wounded May 8th, 1968.

The group of men were wounded only days apart.

Leaving Vietnam, they all joined the veteran’s band in 1986, becoming members of the Purple Heart Chapter in 1991.

As they continue to play in the band, they’re missing their friend David Castro who's sick with leukemia.

And despite their injuries, Callejo said he’s happy to still have his friends and the memories they have made together.

“I’m hoping to be active for a long time,” he said.