On Saturday, March 25th, North Carolina native Oscar Davis Jr. finally received the Purple Heart he earned during WWII exactly 72 years, one month and two weeks ago. Davis had been assigned to “Animal” Company of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was wounded while serving as a radiotelephone operator during the Battle of the Bulge.
Pvt. Davis was knocked down by a piece of German shrapnel while his unit was under shellfire. The radio on his back protected him from immediate death. The shells struck a nearby tree, which fell on Davis, causing a spinal injury that paralyzed him from the waist down for three weeks. Once Davis recovered, he rejoined his unit in Germany.
Davis had been told years ago that he would receive the Purple Heart, an award that recognizes troops wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States. Unfortunately, the paperwork for the award was never signed.
The medal ceremony took place in a dining room at Heritage Place in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The 92 year-old veteran was smiling as Lt. Col. Marcus Wright, commander of the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, pinned it to his jacket. “This has been some day,” said Davis. “I couldn’t believe all this was going to happen. I just want to thank the Lord.”
Family and friends of Davis’ attended the ceremony, along with soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 82nd Airborne Division.
“All I can say about this is ‘Wow’,” Lt. Col. Wright said. “I’m absolutely honored to be here today.” Wright presided over the whole event.
After the medal was awarded, soldiers from A Company presented Davis with a unit coin and a shirt. Dozens of people lined up to shake Davis’ hand. The medal ceremony was the result of almost two years of work undertaken by the Veterans’ Legacy Foundation, a North Carolina-based organization that helps veterans receive the awards that are owed to them. Volunteers searched an entire archive of war reports for proof of Davis’ injuries, said foundation director John Elscamp. In 2015, the Veterans’ Legacy Foundation helped Davis receive the Bronze Star and other awards that he had earned but never collected.
During the 2015-16 season, George Fox University’s women’s golf team will honor a fallen soldier.
The team will honor Mark Jennings Daily, a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army who was killed in Iraq in 2007 at the age of 23. After his death, Daily was awarded a purple heart and bronze star medal for his service. To honor Daily, at each tournament the team plays, one member will carry a golf bag with the name of Mark Jennings Daily written on it.
The George Fox women’s golf team is participating in the Folds of Honor Military Tribute Program. The program gives college golf teams the opportunity to honor a fallen or injured military service member through a golf bag displaying his or her name, rank, and branch of service.
Folds of Honor is a charity that provides scholarships and assistance to the families of military personnel killed or disabled during service. The charity partnered with the Golf Coaches Association of America and the Women’s Golf Coaches Association in order to make the Folds of Honor Military Tribute program possible.
MaryJo McCloskey, coach of the women’s golf team, feels privileged to be able to participate in the program. “It is such a privilege to participate in this program and to honor Lieutenant Mark Daily,” she said. “I have always appreciated the sacrifices of our military men and women, and when I heard about the opportunity, I knew we had to participate.”
After her husband, U.S. Army Captain John Hallett, was killed in Afganistan in 2009, Lisa Hallett began to run with a few friends each Saturday morning, each woman providing support to the rest of the group. “We had this community where we were going to heal together, and that is where ‘Wear Blue’ was born.” said Hallett in an interview.
Hallett stated that her inspiration to start the group “Wear Blue” came from her love and devotion to her husband. She and John Hallet had grown up together and fell in love in high school. “When I was in high school I remember saying, “I am going to marry John Hallett.”
Lisa and John Hallett had three children together, Jackson, Brice, and Heidi. Heidi was born almost immediately after John Hallett deployed to Afganistan. “John called, he said, ‘I never heard her cry,’ and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, don’t worry about it. We have a lifetime for that.'”
Only three weeks later, Lisa Hallett received the news that her husband had been killed. “My world was rocked.”
Soon Hallett’s Saturday morning runs grew to over 10,000 people from across the country, all running to keep their loved ones’ memories alive.
Each “Wear Blue” run, organized by “Wear Blue: Run to Remember,” begins with a list of the names of the military members who died on that same weekend over the last thirteen years. After that, each of the runners shouts out the names of those for whom she or he is personally running.
“They live because ‘Wear Blue’ lives and that is an incredible gift. ‘Wear Blue’ provides the sense that we’re not alone in remembering our service members.” said Hallett.
Jackson Hallett, on one of the recent runs, took part by holding an American flag beside the race course.
Jackson stated, “I am honoring my dad. It’s a happy day and I feel really good.”
17-year-old Sydney Brook’s father, Colonel Buddy Brook, was the last person she was expecting to see at her school sorority dance. As far as she knew, he was still in the Middle East on deployment from the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command.
Colonel Brook has had to miss many family events while serving the nation. “We miss a lot of things, birthdays, anniversaries,” said Brook. “I’ve missed the last 12 anniversaries my wife and I’ve had, except one. On this deployment, I actually left … on our anniversary date. I’ve missed the birth of the two of three of our grandchildren, so that’s been hard.”
But on this return, Brook decided to give his daughter the surprise of her life. “My wife, Sharon, and I planned it out: After getting back home from the Middle East the night before, I’d stay in a hotel so Sydney wouldn’t see me,” said Brook.
“I’m just glad that we get to give Sydney a surprise,” he added. “I hope it goes off well. It’s hard staying in this hotel, waiting for the night to get here.”
Only a chosen few knew about the surprise. “We told the sorority officials beforehand, and the MC, and we arranged for a TV reporter to videotape the dance so we could get Sydney’s reaction on camera,” said Brook.
They did have to tell her dance partner. “We had to ask him to dance with her in a way to keep her back turned, so she wouldn’t see me before I was ready to surprise her,” said Brook.
Just before the dance began, Sydney watched a video from her dad. “Backstage at the dance, before the [sorority] sisters made their entrance, they played a video message on a big screen that supposedly my dad had sent from Afghanistan,” said Sydney. “I just teared up, because I missed him and he couldn’t be here.”
When a father-daughter dance was announced, Sydney had no idea her father was anywhere near. He walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. “I was in shock, then I gasped and started to cry,” said Sydney. The sorority sisters clapped and cheered.
“I don’t even really remember dancing with him, just hugging him while we moved on the dance floor,” said Sydney.
Her father added, “It was a pretty emotional moment for us and for our whole family.” Brook is now on a three-week break before another deployment.
“Sydney hadn’t seen me for nine months, and even though we talked on the phone a lot and did homework assignments together over the computer, being with her in person was … very special,” said Brook.
ISIS and al Qaeda are allegedly combining forces. Additional reports claim ISIS plans to begin creating its own money to “change the tyrannical monetary system that enslaves Muslims.”
Wounded ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdad now denies any injury and is encouraging henchmen to “erupt volcanoes of jihad.”
Leaders from both terrorist organizations claim they met in a farmhouse, called a truce, and decided to gang up on the rest of the world.
For the first time, a Senior Intelligence Official commented on the reports. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper discussed whether ISIS and al Qaeda have joined forces in Syria. He did not appear overly concerned.
“We don’t see that,” he said. “There have been tactical accommodations on the battlefield, on occasion, where local groups have united in the interest of a tactical objective, but broadly, I don’t see those two uniting, at least yet.”
Other American officials are likewise showing minimal concern. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress that headway has been made against the terrorists since September.
“We are seeing steady and sustainable progress along DOD’s two main lines of efforts,” Hagel said.
However, American defense is not entirely discounting the threats.
“As you know, last week, the Defense Department announced we will expand the support to Iraqi forces by deploying up to 1,500 additional military personnel,” Hagel told legislators.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, added during the same hearing that the U.S. would consider sending a limited force to support Iraqi troops.
“I’m not predicting at this point that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey said.