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Organization works to return military medals to recipients, families

A Purple Heart

KEVIN TANENBAUM/U.S. AIR FORCE

By LACEY SUDDERTH | McAlester News-Capital, Okla. (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 19, 2017

The Purple Heart Medal is a combat decoration awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who are wounded or killed by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy.

It is the nation’s oldest military honor.

An organization founded in 2012 by active-duty Vermont Army National Guard Capt. Zachariah Fike was created to help return lost medals to veterans and their families.

The organization is called Purple Hearts Reunited Inc., and it is a non-profit organization. They have been able to locate and return more than 300 medals to date.

Recently, the organization was able to return a lost Purple Heart medal to U.S. Army Sgt. Thedford Charles Staples’ family during a special ceremony held on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Staples was killed in action in 1943 during World War II near Acquafondata, Italy.

While returning the medal, Purple Hearts Reunited department commander Mike Sturgill told the story of the history of the Purple Heart. Staples’ family members were asked to share stories of Staples’ heroism. Sen. Larry Boggs (R-Okla.) was present for the ceremony.

Payne County Chapter Adjutant Gary Lewis said the Purple Hearts Reunited organization works to also raise funds for various veterans activities and to help veterans in need.

“We also help police and firemen through our fundraising and provide council for all veterans,” Lewis said.

Lewis said funds are mostly raised for specific projects to help all veterans and Purple Hearts Reunited members. Lewis said he has been involved since 2011. For more information on the organization visit www.purpleheartsreunited.org.

©2017 the McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, Okla.)
Visit the McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, Okla.) at mcalesternews.com
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