Karen Robes160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “Hopefully, someday we can bring him home,” said Sanchez’s sister, Faye Gutierrez. Linda Sanchez made the presentation of Airman Sanchez’s long-overdue Purple Heart possible. Along with the former Whittier man’s medal, Sanchez was able to secure never-bestowed medals for two other WWII soldiers, also presenting them at Friday’s ceremony. Symbols and words marked Friday’s event. Brass buttons gleamed from military uniforms. Military flags waved. And the familiar refrain, “For the land of the free and the home of the brave,” was sung by all. “I remember fathers, grandfathers – people,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief P. Michael Freeman said. “That’s what Veterans Day is about – people. Men and women doing the extraordinary.” U.S. Army Pfc. George Kuestner of Lakewood also received a belated Purple Heart. Kuestner was part of the 41st Calvary Reconnaissance unit and was wounded during an enemy attack. U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Lawrence Vera of Artesia received a Bronze Star for leading his men through roadblocks and difficult terrain in the thick of enemy territory. ARTESIA – Former Whittier resident Joe Ralph Sanchez, a U.S. Army Air Corps staff sergeant and a gunner for the 391st Bombardment unit during World War II, was ordered to attack a target in Germany during the Battle of the Bulge. Sanchez succeeded in his mission, but his B-26 Marauder was shot down. He remains listed as missing in action. But a visible reminder of Sanchez’s bravery and sacrifice finally came home to his family on Friday. As officials and residents gathered at a Veterans Day ceremony in Artesia, remembering dozens of area veterans, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, presented a Purple Heart to Sanchez’s family.