Local Purple Heart Recipient Remembers Service As Marine
Menifee resident Michael Cano plans to spend this 4th of July like many other locals. He will invi...
This may seem ordinary, but being able to do this is something that Cano, a former Marine, doesn't take for granted. The 64-year-old veteran knows his life could've turned out much differently when he was wounded on the battlefield.
"There are really no fond memories from my service in Vietnam," said Cano, who volunteered for the draft in 1968. "When you serve in combat, decisions are made quickly and assertively because lives are at stake at all times."
Cano enlisted in the Marines after he graduated from high school in Torrance at age 18.
"I was the youngest of five siblings with no real direction in life," he said. "I felt a need to get out of dodge and do something different."
After he received a letter from the draft board requesting him to register, Cano stopped to pick up a hitchhiker on the way to a recruiting booth. Coincidentally, the hitcher needed a lift to the same place. When he found out he was a Marine, Cano thought he'd like to join, too.
A year after he joined the Marines, Cano was wounded by shrapnel from a motor during operation Apache Snow in Vietnam. Then, a couple months before he was scheduled to leave, he was shot in the leg by a sniper on Hill 55.
Cano later received two Purple Hearts and other awards for his heroic efforts during his service. He was honorably discharged from the Marines in July of 1974.
"Receiving two Purple Hearts for my wounds at the time when it happened wasn't a grand issue," he said. "I hadn't reflected on the subject until these last few years."
Today, Cano seems to get greater reward by helping other veterans get the care they deserve. He is an active member of VFW Post 1956, and was recently appointed Service Officer. His duty is to provide veterans with information on how to procure veteran benefits. He assists veterans in getting compensation, medical benefits, education and more.
"I take great pride and satisfaction in assisting veterans on how to get through the red tape to obtain VA benefits," he said.
Joseph Quinn, another member of Post 1956, refers to Cano as a good man and enjoys working with him. He explained that the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been around since the Spanish American War, and is the largest organization of American veterans who have been in combat.
"Our role locally is to provide camaraderie and support to our fighting brothers and their families," he said. "We are presently dedicated to those returning vets form Iraq and Afghanistan, and trying to support them with employment help and contacts."
To learn more about Post 1956, visit www.vfw1956.com.
Cano and his family moved to the Menifee Valley in 2003 because of it's potential to open a dry cleaners. He and his wife invested in real estate properties and opened Newport Cleaners, a small business they currently operate.
Cano is also a Professor of Economics at the University of La Verne.
Recently, he was honored as Veteran of the Year by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez during a ceremony in Sacramento.