Do you know anyone who is a recipient of a Purple Heart medal? I didn’t think I did, but recently I learned of someone I’ve spoken with many times who has a military history I didn’t know anything about.
When my son was in preschool he participated in a local gymnastics class. One of the other boys in the class became a good friend. He and his parents became such good friends that we even went on a couple of weekend beach trips together as families.
Birthday parties, playdates, and other activities often included extended family members. Grandma and Grandpa (known to us as “Gee Paw” and “Gee Maw”) lived in Oklahoma at the time but visited often. They later moved to the same town we lived in.
We saw them a lot. Of course, most of the conversation revolved around the kids. We never discussed Gee Paw’s military service.
Recently, I was very surprised to learn more specifics about his past. His daughter (the mother of my son’s friend) posted on her Facebook page that her dad (“Gee Paw”) was highlighted on a local news channel for turning 100 on the 4th of July. As I watched the reel, I was shocked to learn about his military service and recognition as a Purple Heart recipient!
Silence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen
MacDougal, a pilot in WW2 flew a Piper Cub. The Piper Cub was made of tubular aluminum wrapped in cloth and painted with acetate. It had no guns. He sat on a steel plate for protection instead of adding the weight of a parachute. Shot at multiple times, one exploded shrapnel that hit his head and nearly took his life. This incident earned him the Purple Heart.
Later, MacDougal flew in the Korean War without nearly as dramatic an incident. He later went on to Law School and became a probate judge.
While I had heard much about his life as a judge, I had never before heard the stories of his military service. It makes me wonder how many other people I’ve known that served and like Gee Paw, never spoke of their military service.
At 100, Gee Paw is still looking good. He wakes up every day and says “Thank You for this day. What do you want me to do today?” A man of deep faith, he is an inspiration!
Sometimes you have to be direct and ask
Recently I worked a volunteer event for USO Northwest in Southern Oregon. Kingsley Airfield hosted an Air Show featuring F-15s and other military aircraft. A team of 7 of us served lunch to military members and their families. We later handed out drinks, snacks, and American flags for the kids.
On the first day, we were setting up and getting our orders for the upcoming event. That night we all went to dinner together at the local VFW. 2 of the 6 volunteers working alongside me were themselves Veterans of Foreign War.
Our center manager is a Gold Star dad whose son also received a Purple Heart. Jeff has a connection who gave him 2,000 special Purple Heart Challenge Coins. He loves to hand them out to Purple Heart recipients. So, he asked our server if anyone there that night was a Purple Heart recipient. Sure enough, there was 1.
Much younger than Gee Paw, this Veteran was wounded in Afghanistan. A humble and quiet man, he was grateful for Jeff’s kind words and special gift. It was an honor to be an onlooker.
In honor of Purple Heart Day – August 7, 2022
2MyHero is offering 1 free USPS Purple Heart forever stamp with every individual greeting card ordered now through July 31.
Make a list of the Veterans you know, and specifically any who are Purple Heart recipients. Order their branch of service card. Let them know how important they are. Let them know you appreciate them.
Reward them with encouragement. Reward yourself with a free USPS Purple Heart forever stamp!
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