FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - Fort Sill held its annual Memorial Day service Monday, honoring all of our nation's fallen military men and women. Among those honored, a World War Two and Korean War Veteran named Michael Prestianni, who died just ten days ago in Lawton.
Michael Prestianni served in both World War Two and the Korean War and was awarded not one, but two Purple Hearts for his service. Unfortunately, he passed away earlier this month, but at Monday's Memorial Day service on Fort Sill, one of his final wishes was granted.
Bruce Dwyer of the Military Order of the Purple Heart said he first met Prestianni earlier this month on the day he died. He said he received a call from his stepdaughter who explained her father, a two-time Purple Heart recipient, was close to passing away. She said there was no one who lived by that could come see him. When he arrived, Dwyer said Prestianni was able to hear what he was saying but could not respond. He said he found out Prestianni's final wish was to tell his story.
"His biggest regret was he never got a chance to give a speech about the Korean War. I said I'll try to give it for him, so I phoned up Fort Sill and here we are," said Dwyer.
Monday, Dwyer delivered Prestianni's speech.
During his distinguished military career, Prestianni spent time all over the world. He guarded prisoners at the Nuremberg trials in Germany and was later one of the few survivors of what's called the "Hadong Massacre" in Korea. He was wounded during that battle, surviving behind enemy lines for three days before being found.
After recovering from his injuries, he headed back to North Korea, where he was again injured. Despite his heroic actions, Prestianni's speech made mention of those who were not as lucky.
His step-daughters were in attendance for Monday's ceremony and say if he could have been there, he would have loved it.
"He'd be shaking every single person's hand and telling them thank you for thanking me," said Prestianni's step-daughter Rex Felt.
Felt and Prestianni's other step-daughter, Vicki Grice, said Memorial Day is extremely important to them thanks to the mindset that Prestianni instilled within them.
"Freedom is not free and if we want our freedom in America, we better pay attention. Everyone out here has laid down their life to keep us free. It's important," Grice said.