An Orange County hotel operator and long-time supporter of veterans causes has stepped up with a major donation to help pay tribute to the courage and sacrifice of heroes who will be recognized as part of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project.
Martin Milano, the owner of the Hampton Inn Hotel Woodbury and the Hampton Inn & Suites Newburgh, has pledged the necessary hotel rooms for visiting Purple Heart recipients and their guests from across America. The donation is valued at nearly $50,000.
“Growing up, especially when I was younger, I knew a number of men who were involved in the Vietnam War. I always admired and appreciated their efforts and felt they didn’t receive the thanks they truly deserved. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our veterans, especially our Vietnam veterans and our Purple Heart heroes who have given so much for our freedom. I’m glad to be able to help the National Purple Heart Honor Mission give these brave men and women the homecoming they deserve,” said Milano.
“We are tremendously grateful to have Martin’s support for the 2021 Patriot Project. This our chance to say ‘thank you’ to our Purple Heart heroes across every generation on behalf of a grateful nation. Martin’s generosity helps ensure, during these challenging times, that we can continue to bring these American heroes together and pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice,” said National Purple Heart Honor Mission Executive Director, Col. Russ Vernon (Ret.).
Purple Heart Patriot Project missions bring Purple Heart recipients from across the nation to the Hudson Valley for a multi-day salute to service that features visits to historic Washington’s Headquarters where the Badge of Military Merit originated in 1782, a private tour of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor – the museum dedicated to paying tribute to our nation’s combat wounded, and other special events. Honorees for the 2021 event, scheduled for April 26 - 30, 2021, were announced last month on Veterans Day.
This ‘Honor Flight’ style, salute to service will bring together Purple Heart heroes from WWII to the present day. Past Purple Heart recipients who have participated in the 2019 Patriot Project have been moved by the outpouring of gratitude from the public and the immediate sense of camaraderie they felt with their fellow honorees.
Among this year’s distinguished honorees is Andrew Spores of Illinois, a World War II veteran and son of Greek immigrants, who was drafted at 18. Spores fought in the battles of Naples and Monte Casino where he was injured with shrapnel, received treatment, and was sent back to the front lines. Spores is still plagued by injuries he received on the beaches of Anzio and the battle of Rome.
Another 2021 honoree, Steven Zerger of Colorado, is a retired Army Sergeant First Class who was grievously wounded-in-action during his fourth combat tour in Vietnam while leading his platoon into a desperate firefight. Zerger went on to serve his country for nearly two decades and continues to mentor new Purple Heart recipients as a leader in the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH).
The National Purple Heart Honor Mission is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to paying tribute to our nation’s combat wounded and those killed in action through outreach and educational programming. Those wishing to help pay tribute to these brave honorees can learn more about the organization and make a donation at PurpleHeartMission.org.