We recently got the opportunity to hear about a man, Sergeant Epifano Gonzales. Sgt. Gonzales served in World War II, and won a Silver Star for his actions on the battlefield. We feel very honored to get to do something kind in return for all he has done. Here is his story, and the work being done at his home.
“Sergeant Gonzales joined the army because he felt patriotic duty and also wanted to help his family out, who was still recovering from the Great Depression. After training and deployment to several places, he found himself in Italy, where he earned the Silver Star.”
“Epifano Gonzales, Sergeant, company, 19th Engineer Regiment (c), for outstanding gallantry in action during the night of 20 January 1944. South of Rome, Italy in forced crossing of the Rapido River, Sergeant Gonzales, in charge of an engineer platoon, was assigned the task of construction a pneumatic footbridge to cross assault troops. Although the detail was under constant and heavy artillery fire during the assembling and transporting of the bridge to the river’s edge, Sergeant Gonzales by his own encouragement and heroic leadership inspired his men in continuing the task and sucessfully launching the bridge. As the nose of the bridge approached the far shore, it became caught on a submerged stump. In the face of direct enemy fire, Sergeant Gonzales crossed to remove the obstruction as continuous shell explosions, raised the bridge out of the water. Sergeant Gonzales remained on the far bank and supervised the anchoring of the bridge despite the continuous and extremely heavy fire. The gallant and fearless example set by Sergeant Gonzales in the face of constant enemy fire was materially responsible for the completion of the bridge and furnishing of a vitally necessary crossing.”
Shortly after, Sergeant Gonzales was offered a Purple Heart after an accident in a jeep caused by artillery left a crater in the road and injured him. He turned it down, saying that many other men had been hurt far worse than he. When asked how he managed to avoid being hurt or killed at Rapido River, he replied, “I was just an instrument in God’s hands.”