Baseball Hall-of-Famer, humanitarian, and beloved Puerto Rican hometown hero, Clemente also served as a United States Marine from 1958-1964
Honoring America’s veterans’ legacy of service, Wreaths Across America and Crowley will host a wreath laying ceremony on Monday, Dec. 12, in Puerto Rico to celebrate baseball Hall-of-Famer and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve veteran Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker.
In his storied professional baseball career, Clemente received many honors. He was an All-Star, MVP, and World Champion. However, it’s less widely known that he served as a Marine Reserve while playing Major League Baseball. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Clemente starred for 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955 to 1972. As part of his humanitarian spirit, he joined U.S. Marine Corps Reserve during the 1958 baseball offseason.
Clemente’s military service epitomized his philosophy of faith, love and helping those less fortunate. He served until September 1964 as a private first class, including six months on active duty at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. Clemente was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Puerto Rico Veterans Hall of Fame in 2018.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of his 1972 death in a plane crash at age 38 while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
“Our year-round mission is to Remember the fallen, Honor those that serve and their families, and Teach the next generation the value of Freedom,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. “Mr. Clemente is a wonderful example of how service to others, your community, and your country, can make a lasting impact in the lives of others. He will forever be well-known for what he did while on the baseball field, but we hope his service to our nation will help inspire others to find a way to serve.”
Crowley, the island’s longest serving U.S. shipping and logistics company and primary sponsor for Wreaths Across America’s Puerto Rico ceremonies, is providing financial and in-kind logistics services to transport more than 5,500 wreaths from the mainland to the island as well as participating as volunteers at the Dec. 17 ceremonies. Joining the company are industry partners Caribbean Produce Exchange, Inc.; Gallery Shipping; Flexitank; Oceanic General Agency; McAllister Towing and Transportation, Unlimited Heavy Equipment and Freight; and Plaza Food Systems, in sponsoring wreaths and volunteering to honor veterans.
“Our partnership with Wreaths Across America and celebration of Roberto Clemente’s service is a meaningful opportunity for Crowley employees and partners to remember and honor the men and women who served our country as well as help teach about the value and importance of those who sacrificed to protect our freedoms,” said Sal Menoyo, vice president of Puerto Rico and Caribbean Logistics, Crowley. “We are proud to be able to support these important events and reinforce our commitment to veterans and those currently serving around the world with the Clemente family and Wreaths Across America.”
The Dec. 12 ceremony, where guests will be joined by members of the Clemente family, will highlight Wreath Across America’s mission spanning the world as well as highlight the Roberto Clemente Foundation’s activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of his tragic death.
“The legacy of our father lives on through his many achievements, lasting connections and the strong sense of comradeship he established in Puerto Rico and beyond,” said Luis Roberto Clemente, son of the late Roberto and Vera Clemente and President of the Roberto Clemente Foundation. “We are proud to stand by our community, Wreaths Across America and Crowley as they shine a light on his name, the services of veterans in Puerto Rico and beyond.”
On Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 – National Wreaths Across America Day – veterans laid to rest at Puerto Rico National Cemetery also will be honored with the placement of veterans’ wreaths sponsored by the local community. The Puerto Rico ceremony coincides with 3,400 others coordinated by Wreaths Across America in all 50 U.S. states and American territories at sea and abroad.