The 100th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood in France passed this past June. A Marine from Syracuse was at the battle, and is now receiving a Purple Heart.  

Marching with the Marines was Private Mark P. McCarthy Jr. of Syracuse. According to, Mark enlisted with the Marines in July 1917 and departed Syracuse for Buffalo. However, on June 14th 1918, it would be a day that would change him forever:

June 14 was a bad day for McCarthy's 78th Company. His unit was ordered to move toward the fighting to relieve the 5th Marines. The Germans began a massive bombardment in the early morning hours. In just over four hours, the enemy would rain 7,000 projectiles down on McCarthy and the rest of his company."

The crushing shrapnel and mustard gas would cost the company 16 men killed and 191 wounded. McCarthy was one of them to get wounded by the gas. McCarthy was removed from the battlefield and his condition was listed as "very serious."

After receiving treatment, he was back after just three months away and served through the end of the war.

He returned to Syracuse and ran the family restaurant until his death in 1962. He was married and had three children including a son, Mark, who also served in the Marines. At the time of his discharge in 1919, McCarthy was given a "Good Conduct Medal," but his son often wondered why he was not given a Purple Heart, for being wounded in battle."

Last year, Mark McCarthy was awarded his Purple Heart, 99 years after being gassed. His family has fought over the years for this to happen, and finally, it has happened.


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