Purple Heart recipients to be honored at dinner - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Purple Heart recipients to be honored at dinner

Purple Heart recipients will be honored August 9 in Wilmington. Purple Heart recipients will be honored August 9 in Wilmington.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military award in the United States, dating back to General George Washington in 1782. It is awarded to members of the military who are wounded in combat, and presented to families of those killed in action. An event in Wilmington on August 9 will honor local veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

Chuck Kroger

Chuck Kroger of Wilmington served in the U.S. Army and fought the Nazis in Europe. He enlisted with other members of his college fraternity after attending a semester at the University of Connecticut.

Chuck's military job was Communications Sergeant, tasked with keeping information flowing between commanders and troops on the battlefield. Chuck landed on Omaha Beach in the days following the Normandy Invasion in June of 1945.

As his company was held up in a small town in Germany called Lindern, Chuck was badly wounded by an enemy mortar shell. The headset he wore while performing his duties may have actually saved Chuck's life.

"They always tell you when artillery is coming in to 'hit the ground and to get low'," Chuck said. "I had a radio headset on and didn't hear it [the order], so I was standing upright. The shell landed next to me and fractured both of my legs. I remember the guys with me. The poor kid who was carrying this great big radio on his back, he heard it [the order] and hit the ground like you're supposed to. It just took him out completely."    

George Fox

George Fox had already enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps before World War II began. He landed a position in tank maintenance, and later petitioned his commanding officer to enter the combat ranks.

George had become a tank driver by the time the Marines made several landings in the Pacific Islands, fighting Japanese troops along the way.

George was wounded during a battle on the island of Iwo Jima. A day after the famous flag-raising on Mount Suribachi, George and fellow Marines had taken an airfield from the Japanese when they stopped to help some wounded troops.    

"We decided it would be a good idea to put them on the back of the tank and take them back to the aid station," George said. "I got out of the tank, and I was moving some of the sand bags to make room when we were hit by some mortar shells from the Japanese. That's when I got hit in the leg."

Looking back

George and Chuck are both in their 90s now, and their war injuries are long healed. The memories of the time they spent in battle is still vivid, reminding both men of the shared experiences that changed their lives. They share an honor with an estimated two million other men and women, of being presented the Purple Heart, which is the nation's oldest military award.

"We've got something in common, and that's something to be proud of," said George, as he looked at the medal he has encased in glass with others he earned while serving his country.

"There is a real comradery when you see another Purple Heart recipient," Chuck said. "It's hard to describe."

Both men complimented the organizers of the Cape Fear Purple Heart Dinner on August 9, to honor local recipients of the medal.

If you know of a Purple Heart recipient who has not been contacted for the event, please call Bill Ebersbach with the Military Order of the Purple Heart at 910-524-0077.​

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