In the legendary battle that wrested Okinawa from the Japanese, Sam fought fiercely
for every inch of ground he helped to capture – that is, until a Japanese satchel
charge blew up right next to him, lighting up the night and scarring his body forever.
Most people don’t know that Sam spent 16 months in military hospitals while doctors
tried to repair the damage. Most folks have never seen the arm that still houses
shrapnel from that explosion six decades ago. Most also don’t know that this Marine
was awarded the Purple Heart for the role he played in that key battle in Okinawa.
They don’t know any of this because Sam doesn’t talk about it.
He doesn’t talk about himself much at all. That’s because he’s too busy talking
about other veterans and their needs, the problems they face today – problems getting
medical care, jobs and the benefits they earned.
Sam has turned the ferocity that once made him a hero in battle into a ferocious
advocacy for his fellow veterans. And no task, no gesture is too big or too small
for Sam. Whether it’s serving as Aide to the DAV National Commander or writing a
note to a grieving widow, Sam does it all with compassion and ceaseless devotion.
Sam may be quiet about himself, but he isn’t quiet when it comes to his fellow veterans.
His outreach has touched the lives of countless veterans and family members – right
when they needed it most. And that’s what makes Sam Lanza an American hero.