From 23 February 2020 – 29 February 2020, the non-profit foundation, Purple Hearts Reunited, will travel throughout the Sunshine State returning lost, stolen or misplaced medals of valor and military memorabilia. Over the course of 6 days, the organization will present 6 purple heart medals (5 WWII era and 1 Korean War era) as well as a set of WWII dog tags to family members and homes of honors.
On February 27th the public and media are welcome to attend A Night Of Patriotism at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in Lakewood Ranch. The night will be two-fold; the first part will be a return ceremony where 2 WWII Veterans and 1 WWI Veteran will be celebrated, their stories retold and their Purple Heart Medals reunited with grateful family members. This part of the night will be emotional and moving. The second part of the night is a fundraiser, raising money to continue our mission of returning valor. Please see the bottom of the press release for more details of the fundraiser.
When servicemen and women are wounded or sacrifice their lives at times of War, our country awards them or their family with a prestigious award in the form of the Purple Heart. As time passes, certain circumstances can lead to these medals being misplaced, lost, or even stolen. Below is a short biography of the 3 Veterans being celebrated at our event, A Night of Patriotism on February 27th at the Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in Lakewood Ranch (7051 Wireless Ct, Lakewood Ranch, FL 34240) starting at 6pm.
1st Lieutenant Silas Paul Beck, U.S. Air Corps, WWII
Silas was born in 1920 in Oklahoma to unknown parents. He was adopted by R.D. and Mattie Beck and was raised by his Uncle, Bruce Chancellor, in Monrovia, California. He was a graduate of Monrovia-Arcadia-Durate High School. Before joining the service, he was employed as a mechanic at the Bud Miller Motorport.
Silas enlisted into the U.S. Army Air Corps on 01 May 1941 and was trained as a Pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt with the 393rd Fighter Squadron, 367thFighter Group. He participated in over 60 combat missions during World War II. He was specifically credited for close coordination missions with advancing troops of General George Patton Third Army has they attacked toward Saarburg, Germany.
He was killed in action 28 March 1945. He is buried in the Margraten National Cemetery in Holland. For his heroic actions in combat, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 11 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Purple Heart.
His lost Purple Heart was found in the late possessions of an Army Veteran, Mr. Gabino V. Gomez. His medal will be returned to his Nephew, Mr. Michael Beck, of Sarasota, Florida. Through our research, we were able to locate Silas’s best friend during the war, Mr. Don E. Packham, still alive at 99 in Azuza, California. He named his first son, Paul Packham, in honor of his late friend. In May of this year, Namesake Paul will travel to Florida to meet Nephew Mike for the first time.
Private Michael Lawrence Fitzpatrick, USMC, WWII
PVT Michael Lawrence “Mick” Fitzpatrick was born on 19 August 1925 in Park Ridge, Cook County, Illinois to parents Terrence Peter “Terry” and Alta Hattie (Colmer) Fitzpatrick. His father, Terrence, served in WWI out of the Great Lakes Naval Station in Lake County, Illinois. Michael had two older siblings: Terrence Peter Fitzpatrick Jr. and Bernice Grace (Fitzpatrick) Collett Garland Pelletier. Michael attended Maine Township High School in Park Ridge and participated in Football and Track all four years. Michael married Margaret Cassidy. The couple had no children.
Michael enlisted for WWII on 1 February 1943 and finished his training at Camp Pendleton, San Diego County, California. He was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. They sailed for the Marshall Islands in January 1944. As part of Operation Flintlock, the “Fighting Fourth” secured Roi Island in six hours after landing and Namur Island was declared secure in just 24 hours and 15 minutes. After a stay in Maui to rest, refit, and stage for the next operation, the 4th Marine Division sailed for Saipan on 29 May 1944. They landed on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands on 15 June 1944 and Michael was killed in action on 17 June 1944, one of the more than 2,000 casualties suffered in the first two days of the battle. The invasion of the Marianas Island chain was the largest operation in the Pacific war under Marine Corps command. The 4th Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their actions on Saipan and Tinian.Michael’s remains were recovered and repatriated back to the United States. On 21 January 1949, he was buried with honors in Section E Lot 208 of the Rock Island Arsenal and National Cemetery in Rock Island County, Illinois.
His wife Margaret recently passed and her son, Mr. Peter Jeswald, reached out to the Organization in the hopes of returning Michael’s effects to his direct family. His Purple Heart will be returned to his Nephew and Namesake, Mr. Michael R. Collet of Park Ridge, Illinois.
Private William E. Baker, U.S. Army, WWI
Private William E. Baker was born 16 November 1892 in Rush, Ohio, the fourth of five children of Charles Wesley and Mary Catherine Clark Baker.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army for service in World War I and was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 117th Infantry Regiment, 59th Infantry Brigade, 30th Infantry Division. He was killed in action on 07 October 1918 during the Somme Offensive in France. He was first buried in the Sevier Cemetery Geneve, Aisne, France and then brought home to Ohio in 1921.
His family never received a Purple Heart, so his Nephew, Mr. Bob Baker, has made it his personal mission to have one awarded. With the help of Purple Hearts Reunited, the medal was recently issued by the Army and will be presented for the first time to his Nephew Bob of Ellenton, Florida. The frame will eventually travel to Lucasville, Ohio for permanent display at the William Baker American Legion Post 363, an American Legion Post named in honor of PVT William E. Baker.
Following the Return Ceremony, Purple Hearts Reunited will be holding a Calcutta Fundraiser. Purple Hearts Reunited is a small non-profit that relies on donations to offset the costs to family members. PHR is asking for the media’s help in advertising this event. A“Calcutta” (popular in New England) is a fun way to raise money for charities. 100 numbered balls (tickets) are sold for $120 a piece. Each ball corresponds to a ticket holder and is drawn out of a bag – the last ball drawn wins the jackpot of $2500 – surprises throughout the night return the balls back to the bag to increase the odds of winning. Appetizers are being sponsored by PUB 32, beer sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle Distributing with proceeds going toward Purple Hearts Reunited. In addition to a chance of winning $2500, prizes will be raffled off and silent auction items will be available for bidding (sports memorabilia, vineyard vines merchandise, gifts from Sword and Plough, local restaurant gift certificates, etc). Contact Sarah@purpleheartsreunited.org for tickets or directly purchasetickets online here. The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington – then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by General George Washington himself. General Washington authorized his subordinate officers to issue Badges of Merit as appropriate. From then on, as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I. General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work of a new design and by Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington’s birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Order No. 3, dated February 22, 1932. Today, the Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917.
An estimated 1.8 Million Purple Hearts have been awarded in our nation’s history. Today, in addition to being awarded to those who fight overseas, the Purple Heart is also given to military personnel who display bravery and valor as prisoners of war and while fighting certain types of domestic terrorist.
Purple Hearts Reunited is a nonprofit foundation that returns lost, stolen or misplaced medals of valor to veterans or their families in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. When no living descendants are found, Purple Hearts Reunited find a “Home of Honor” to display the medal for years to come. When appropriate, Purple Hearts Reunited conducts a “Return Ceremony” to bring attention and honor to fallen heroes whose stories were as forgotten as the medals themselves. By retelling these stories of bravery and sacrifice, Purple Hearts Reunited both restores legacies and preserves history. Since its beginning, the organization has returned over 650 lost medals, traveled over 100,000 miles, visited over 42 States, and has directly affected the lives of over 1 Million people. Purple Hearts Reunited has been featured on NBC Nightly News, CNN, Fox and Friends, BBC, Reader’s Digest, NPR and featured on the popular History Channel show American Pickers. Purple Hearts Reunited is a small non-profit but the effects are countless and intangible. Please consider making a donation to Purple Hearts Reunited so we can continue our services at Purple Hearts Reunited.org
Contacts: Zachariah Fike, Founder, 315-523-3609 or email@example.com. Sarah Corry, Executive Director, 802-734-7715 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Jessica Fike, Administrative Director, 802-399-9321 or email@example.com
Photos from Deposit Photos, Purple Hearts Reunited, and Wikipedia