Marathon is now a Purple Heart City. That’s a designation that honors and remembers military personnel wounded or killed in combat with hostile forces. Signs have been posted at both ends of Marathon.
It is the brainchild of Tony Daiuto, a Marathon veteran and supporter of veterans. In addition to his involvement with Marathon Marauders, a club that owns and operates antique military trucks and jeeps, and sending care packages to military personnel at the holidays, he also undertook the arduous path of getting Marathon its special status.
“I started this whole process in 2014, and have been working on it on and off since then. It started when I went to visit a friend in Stuart and saw their sign,” Daiuto said.
While there are many purple heart recipients with ties to Marathon, the program formally recognizes three who listed Marathon Shores as their home of record when enlisting in the military: Howard D. Anderson, Odes Herman Moutardier and Terry Lee Baxter. All were casualties of the Vietnam War.
There is another “Purple Heart” recipient from Marathon, but he was wounded in action before the award was instituted in 1917. Private John Pent, born in Marathon in 1839, served in the Civil War from 1861-1863 and was reportedly shot through the hand. He survived and moved back to Key West. He died in 1919.
The designation required the approval of the Purple Heart City program, the City of Marathon and the state Department of Transportation. The installation was also a group effort. Daiuto lists a number of helpers, including city employee Libby Frazier, former City Manager Chuck Lindsey, Dan Zieg, Bill Nickel, Mike Puto, John Dick, the local chapter of the American Legion, Jim Griffith and Tony Saldano.
“I like the military,” said Daiuto. “And our veterans need to have more recognition and respect. I can’t do enough for these people even if they are not with us any more.”
Are you a Purple Heart recipient? Or do you have a family member who is a Purple Heart recipient? Please take a photo of yourself near one of the two signs, both located near the lighthouse City of Marathon Signs on Grassy Key and Knights Key, and email it to [email protected].