Purple Heart

When I was growing up my Dad never talked about his military service and honestly I was afraid to ask about it. I think this is especially true with Veterans who served in Vietnam because of conversations I have had with others who knew or had loved ones who served in the military during that time. I can’t imagine the fear they felt, many of them such very young soldiers and essentially dropped into a dense jungle in the middle of a foreign country, probably their first time ever leaving home.

Several years before he died, I began to ask my Dad questions, trying to be careful and respectful of how difficult it might be for him to share his story with me, especially the one that always intrigued me the most, the one of how he earned his Purple Heart. I knew it meant something. I knew that it was something presented to soldiers who were wounded in the line of duty, but beyond that, I had no idea what his personal story was, or if he’d be willing to share it with me.

Veteran's Day

Finally one day he opened up to me, not in depth about what that time was really like for him, but about what occurred that would lead to him earning that purple heart I was always so curious about. I’m sharing what I remember from our conversation, the details that have stuck with me the most, and I promise to do my best to convey the incredible amount of courage and bravery displayed by all of the men involved. My Dad told me that he remembered a helicopter had landed to retrieve he and a few other soldiers in his division, but that he couldn’t run like the others because he felt as if he was moving in slow motion. It’s quite possible that’s exactly what was happening. He insisted the others go ahead without him to save themselves, but something that I have always known, even as a civilian, is that soldiers don’t leave other soldiers behind. In this case I’m especially grateful for that pledge between ‘brothers’ because I have no doubt it’s the reason my Dad made it home alive and safe. His fellow comrades managed to somehow get him to that helicopter, probably risking their own lives to save his. I don’t recall how, specifically, but I just know he got there and eventually to safety. It was only later that he would learn why he felt so heavy as he tried to run like the others, but his body wasn’t cooperating. It simply wasn’t able because he only had one functioning lung at the time. He had suffered a serious chest wound, along with a wound to his hand and to one side of his face. I can’t even imagine the immense pain and fear he felt that day, but I cant tell you one thing. My whole life he was truly the strongest man I ever knew and he will always be my hero.

This Veteran’s Day I honor him, along with every other man and women who currently serve our country and those who have served in the past. I hope you’ll join me in thanking a Veteran because they deserve our support and gratitude today and every day.


  1. Wow! What an amazing story! Your dad was truly a hero!
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  2. I’m glad your dad made it out too. Hurrah for the code that doesn’t let you leave a man behind, and for the soldiers who so willingly keep it.

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