Marine honored by American Legion

Marine honored by American Legion

Fang A. Wong, Marine Sgt Juan Vallejomunoz, Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly and J.R. Martinez display The American Legion's Spirit of Service award, which was granted to Vallejomunoz during the organization's 94th National Convention in recognition of his extensive volunteer efforts at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 28, 2013) — Sgt Juan M. Vallejomunoz received the American Legion's Spirit of Service Award at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis Aug. 28.

Vallejomunoz received the award in recognition of his extensive volunteer efforts.

American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong and Marine LtGen John F. Kelly, the senior military assistant to the secretary of defense, presented the award to Vallejomunoz, a manpower information systems analyst with manpower information system support office, assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. He was honored along with representatives from each armed service at the annual business gathering of the 2.4 million-member Legion, the nation's largest veteran organization.

This is the 13th year the Legion has sponsored the award program.

A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Vallejomunoz moved to Chicago in 2002 and joined the Marine Corps two years later.

After serving in Okinawa, South Africa, Serbia and Switzerland, he reported to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in June 2010, where his volunteerism flourished. He helped the MEU provide humanitarian assistance after super typhoon Megi ravaged the Philippines in 2010.

Devoting more than 450 hours of community service between deployments, he also assisted young Japanese and American children with tennis tournaments, coaching and mentoring them during his off-duty hours.

He served as the assistant scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America's Far East Council Troop 112, where he helped the scouts attain the lifesaving merit badge. He also volunteered at the Nagomi Children's Orphanage, spending time, playing games, and mentoring the children to become enthusiastic and interactive learners.

Vallejomunoz also devoted Thursday evenings to teaching Spanish to the Japanese community through a weekly radio show. Using prizes, trivia questions and Facebook to promote the program, his contributions enabled the Japanese and Hispanic community on Okinawa to come together. Wong presented Vallejomunoz a membership in the Legion as part of the award.

He makes all of his 2.4 million fellow Legionnaires very proud, Wong said. Our nation is fortunate to have such dedicated service members as Juan Vallejomunoz. He is a credit to his uniform and to our country.

Vallejomunoz was awed at the honor the Legion bestowed on him.

I am amazed to have been selected as the sole Marine to represent my service, said Vallejomunoz. "I knew nothing about the Legion, but now I'm a member of Post 28 and learning a lot. It's one of the best organizations to be a part of."

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