Nov 11, 2020 8:00 AM

Update: Manuel passed away in January of 2021. We honor his memory and are grateful he shared his story.

“Military service means everything to him,” says Manuel “Manny” Pino III of his father, Manuel Pino Jr.

Manuel’s desire to serve even resulted in him enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 16—one year too young. When the military found out his age, he was not permitted to stay in the service. But that didn’t stop Manuel from joining the U.S. Army a few years later. Manuel’s service included multiple combat deployments to Korea and Vietnam. Military life was integral to his family, which includes his wife; his son, Manny; and three daughters. The family moved with Manuel to posts in in Spain, Thailand, and “all over the U.S.,” says Manny. They moved an average of once every 13 months while Manny and his sisters grew up.

In 1976, Manuel retired from the U.S. Army as a sergeant major after decades of honorable service. A loving father and provider, he then worked for the U.S. Postal Service following retirement. And approximately two months ago, Pino III was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and became a patient at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). 

Now, nearing the end of his life, Pino III receives support from Huntsman at Home. Operated in partnership with Community Nursing Services, this service brings specialty cancer care to patients in their own homes.

And thanks to a program operated by Community Nursing Services, Manuel recently received special honors for his military service.

Manuel “Manny” Pino III and his wife sit on the porch

On September 11, 2020—a national day of service and remembrance—Manuel’s family, friends, and neighbors gathered in his backyard to witness both active duty and retired members of the military honoring Manuel’s service and impact through an honor salute. Sheri Harrell, the volunteer coordinator at Community Nursing Services who leads the program, describes the salute as “a simple tribute of appreciation to our veterans as they approach end of life.” Harrell says the goal of the program is to honor these veterans with peace, pride, and closure.

Approximately 300 honor salutes have occurred in Utah since Community Nursing Services began the program. Honor salutes are run entirely on volunteers, including Harrell and retired and active duty armed services members. Harrell notes that for many families, these events can be an opportunity to hear details of their loved one’s service that they may have never learned previously. And for the honoree, the salute fosters an opportunity to know the community deeply appreciates the sacrifices the honoree made through military service. 

Manuel’s honor salute brought together multiple generations of his family, friends, and neighbors who got to witness a presentation of a U.S. flag with a flag folding ceremony led by retired veterans Karl Miller and Garry Belland and active duty members Sergeant First Class Ben Rainey and Sergeant Mathew Poland of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army.
photos of service man on table

Framed photos of Manuel’s military service decorated the tables. To allow the ceremony to proceed, safety precautions like physical distancing, face coverings, individually wrapped food, and hand sanitizer were in place—steps that underscored how important it was to Manuel’s family that they honor his military service, even during a major pandemic. In the front yard, a U.S. flag and a flag honoring prisoners of war and missing-in-action soldiers waved in the breeze on this sunny evening, accompanied by the sounds of laughter and the sharing of memories as a network of family and friends gathered to thank Manuel for his service.

The ceremony concluded with Manuel being presented with the flag and this special commendation by fellow members of the military:

“Sergeant Major Pino Jr.: In appreciation of your tireless efforts in support of our United States Armed Forces, we honor your service, your courage, and also your sacrifices. Your dedication to the United States of America, its ideals, and its military is commendable.”

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