Valley Marine gets Purple Heart
A Gardnerville Ranchos couple is waiting anxiously to hear from their son, Lance Cpl. Miguel Angel Melara, 19, injured last week in a bomb blast in Fallujah.
“We don’t know exactly what happened,” said Maria Melara, the young Marine’s mother. “We don’t even know which leg was injured.”
The Melaras were told by the Marines that Miguel was wounded when his leg was pierced with shrapnel.
“They took him to the hospital and said he was fine,” she said Friday. “They asked him if he wanted to come home or go back on duty and he said he wanted to go back. They gave him the Purple Heart.”
Miguel’s sister, Joanna, 14, answered the telephone when the Marines called at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
“She was crying when she called me,” said Junior Melara, her father. “She said, ‘Dad, something happened to Miguel.'”
Melara said he took two days off work waiting to hear from his son, but as of Friday, Miguel had not been able to call.
“I just want to hear him say, ‘Dad, I’m OK,'” Melara said.
Miguel, a 2003 graduate of Douglas High School, was 17 1/2 when he enlisted. His parents had to give their approval.
“Some kids want to be on the street at that age,” his father said. “Miguel said he didn’t want to waste any more time. We are very proud of him.”
Miguel is in the infantry and assigned to the 3rd Battalion from Camp Pendleton.
“He had his choice when he enlisted. He wanted the infantry. His mother wasn’t happy when he picked the infantry, but he said he wants to be on a SWAT team and he thought the infantry would be better experience,” Melara said.
Maria Melara said she worries about Miguel, and keeps herself busy with his three younger sisters and a brother.
“I try to keep busy, but inside it’s killing me,” she said.
The Melaras said Miguel’s experiences have changed him.
“He’s a lot quieter,” his mother said. “He doesn’t joke around like he used to.”
Two of his best friends were killed in combat.
“He wrote us a letter thanking us for the life he has had here,” Melara said. “He said there are a lot of poor people over there and conditions are terrible.
“We just want him to come home. We want them to bring everybody home.”