Thirty-one years after his death, a Massachusetts veteran is being recognized for the honors he earned in the Korean War.
Marine Sgt. Donald Mackenzie earned two Purple Hearts, but his grave at Dell Park Cemetery in Natick had no mention of the service and sacrifice.
“I remember him from being a child, he was one of my heroes as a child,” Jeff Campbell said of his uncle.
Campbell told WFXT that he was shocked the first time he visited the grave, especially because of what his uncle went through.
“He saw the enemy soldiers coming around with rifles and bayonets, sticking them in his brothers, and also in the grass and paddies looking for other bodies hidden in there,” Campbell said. “He was able to avoid being captured.”
After the war, Mackenzie had a tough life that included substance abuse and homelessness; that’s why Campbell said it was so hard to see his uncle’s military past ignored. That changed on Sunday when a plaque and flags were placed at his grave.
“All veterans should be recognized for the sacrifices that they’ve made,” Campbell said.
Natick Veteran Affairs Officer Paul Carew said cases like this are not uncommon, especially if the veterans are not close with their families.
“Once we bury our family member, sometimes the families just don’t go back,” he said.
Carew arranged to have Sgt. Mackenzie recognized, and is working for others too.
“They served this country to protect me, you and all of us for the freedoms we take for granted way too often in this country,” he said.