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On National Purple Heart Day Congressman Higgins Honors WWII Army PFC Nicholas Sanabria

Aug 7, 2020
Press Release
Father, Son Both Served in the Army, Earning Bronze Stars

In recognition of National Purple Heart Day, August 7, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) honored the valiant service of World War II veteran Nicholas Sanabria. At the Purple Heart Monument at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, John A. Sanabria––himself a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War––was presented with several medals on behalf of his father, including a Purple Heart Medal.

Congressman Higgins said, “Nicholas Sanabria came to this country, he bravely defended it during World War II, he worked hard, was involved in his community and he loved his family. This is a true American story and it is our honor to recognize his service and sacrifices this National Purple Heart day.”

Long before he served as a courageous and selfless war hero helping to liberate France from Nazi occupation, Nicholas Sanabria was born in Quintana, Spain in 1922. At 14 years old, Nicholas immigrated to the United States, working as a baker in Niagara Falls for three years before enlisting in the United States Army in March of 1943. Assigned to the 211 Army Air Forces Base Unit as a Private First Class, Nicholas Sanabria fought in two major battles during World War II: Northern France and the Rhineland. The Allied victory at each of these battles was instrumental to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. During fiery combat in Nancy, France on October 29th, 1944, Sanabria was wounded in action. Surviving his injuries, Nicholas left France in July of 1945 and returned to the United States before being honorably discharged on November 21st, 1945.

After the war, Nicholas Sanabria worked at Bethlehem Steel for 41 years before retiring in 1982. Sanabria was also a member of United Steelworkers Local 2603 and served as a Commander of Disabled Veterans of America Post 113. Throughout his life, Nicholas was an active member of Military Order of the Purple Heart, as well as the Lackawanna Spanish Club. Five decades after being wounded in the liberation of France, Sanabria passed away on December 4th, 1995. Nicholas was survived by his wife, Dolores Sanabria, who later passed in 2002, and four children, as well as six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

In recognition of his war efforts, Sanabria earned a multitude of medals, including the Purple Heart, a medal awarded to service personnel who are injured or wounded in action. In addition, Sanabria received the Bronze Star Medal, awarded for “heroic or meritorious achievement or service,” the Good Conduct Medal, awarded for “exemplary behavior,” and the American Campaign Medal, which honored those who served during the American Theater of Operations during World War II. Sanabria was also awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, signifying the two battles he was involved in, the WWII Victory Medals, a Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award, and an Honorable Service Lapel Button of WWII, given to those who were honorably discharged from their services.

Two years after his father returned from fighting in France, John A. Sanabria was born on September 3, 1947. With his father working at Bethlehem Steel, John lived his childhood in Lackawanna before beginning his service in the Army on January 11th, 1968. He earned the rank of Specialist Four before being discharged on January 10th, 1970. After two years of active duty service, John was transferred to the US Army Reserves, where he served dutifully until January 10th, 1973. Today, John Sanabria is very active in the WNY Hispanic American Veterans Monument Committee and works closely with Congressman Higgins’ office to make sure that all Hispanic American veterans in Western New York are honored for their service to our country.

In addition to the aforementioned honors presented on behalf of his father, John A. Sanabria received several awards in recognition of his own service including a Bronze Star Medal with a certificate that reads: “for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces in the Republic of Vietnam during the period 1 July 1968 to 28 February 1969.”  John also received the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze service stars, Meritorious Unit Commendation with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, Marksman Badge with Auto Rifle Badge, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with “60” device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm device, and a Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Honor Medal Unit Citation First Class.

On behalf of the Western New York community, Congressman Higgins sincerely thanks Nicholas and John Sanabria for their bravery, sacrifice, and heroic service to the United States of America in the Second World War and the War in Vietnam, respectively.