The story of how Tonawanda native, Peter Bingenheimer earned seven purple hearts and a medal of freedom begins in a battle on October 6, 1952 during the Korean War.
"Oh dear god, he was shot up so bad. He laid under bodies until someone found him. It was a nightmare," said Allison Bingenheimer, Peter Bingenheimer's cousin.
There were only 30 men in Bingenheimer's platoon. They were attacked by 300 Chinese soldiers, 600 yards away from the Chinese line. Bingenheimer was one of only two others who would survive the attack.
"His fingers were blown off, shrapnel come out of him for 20 years he was shot up pretty bad. You wouldn't have known it. He was such a gentle nice person," said Allison Bingenheimer.
In a dedication ceremony Saturday, organizers added Bingenheimer's name to the wall where many other servicemen and women are memorialized. Some of them still living. The moment Don Kuciewski picked his name out on the wall was a proud one.
"Once a marine, always a marine. That's the way I feel about it. I was in the Korean War and that's a long time ago, but I don't regret a bit of it," said Kuciewski.
"Any war that the marines have fought in, or any serviceman has fought in, should be remembered because that's how we have the freedom we've got. That's why you can do what you can do in this country," said James Pickard, the chairperson of the event.
A group of young recruits became Marines today, taking an oath to protect and serve our country and take over on the front lines.
"It's something I always wanted to do. Just always wanted to serve my country. I can't see myself doing anything else," said Eric Krzeminski, a new Marine.
This was the seventh annual Marine Appreciation Day ceremony. November 10, 2010 will be the 235th birthday of the US Marine Corps.