SELMA – Selma’s Manuel Dominguez was the most senior veteran who was honored during Selma’s Roosevelt Elementary’s Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day Celebration that took place Nov. 8.
Dominguez is 95 years old and was drafted into the United States Army when he was just 19 years old.
Dominguez was also honored as he appeared in the 100th annual Central Valley Veterans Day Parade in Downtown Fresno on Nov. 11.
When he was just 21, Private Dominguez fought with his unit in Okinawa, Japan. He was severely wounded by a hand grenade and transferred to a hospital ship in Hawaii.
He was to receive the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained while in combat, however the opportunity to be flown home arose before the medal could be awarded. He did not receive his award at that time and spent the next year recovering in a Navy hospital.
When Dominguez returned home, he learned that his military records had likely been destroyed in a fire at the Veterans Affairs building.
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A letter written by the VA indicated he was eligible for the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award and the Honorable Service Lapel Button for World War II.
Dominguez recalled he was told to go to San Jose if he wanted to buy them, however he responded he had earned them and should not be required to purchase the honors.
He returned to Selma without his medals and ran his family’s trucking business until he retired years ago.
It was many years later that Dominguez realized he would like his grandchildren to be aware of their family history. His son, Tony Dominguez, sought help through Congressman Devin Nunez’s office so he could receive the medals he’d earned decades before.
As is the Marine Corps tradition, Dominguez was given the first piece of birthday cake during Roosevelt’s celebration as the eldest veteran in attendance that day.