By Jonathan Damrich
Odilon De Leon wore his Purple Heart in the middle of his cap, right below the spot where it read “Okinawa 1945.”
“I’m proud and happy that I served my country,” De Leon said, “even though I was disabled at the ripe old age of 17.”
The World War II veteran was badly burned May 3, 1945, when a Japanese plane flew into the port side of his ship, the USS LSMR-195, approximately 100 miles away from Okinawa.
The ship was carrying about 465 rockets, he said, which combined with the gasoline in the plane to create a “hellacious explosion.”