On National Purple Heart Day Congressman Higgins Joins Local Vietnam Veterans to Announce Project Adding 280 Names of Western New Yorkers Killed In Action during the Vietnam War to the Purple Heart Hall of Honor
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) joined local veterans, including members of the Vietnam Veterans of America and Military Order of the Purple Heart, to announce the addition of 280 names, of Vietnam veterans from Western New York who were killed in action, to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.
“This is truly an incredible undertaking led by veterans on a mission to remember their own,” said Congressman Higgins. “We are honored to assist the effort to forever memorialize the service and sacrifices of these fallen Western New York service members.”
In 2007 local Vietnam veterans initiated a project to recognize fellow Western New York soldiers killed in action. The process of verifying military service and submitting names to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was challenging, so veterans leading the project reached out to Congressman Higgins’ office for assistance. United States Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran Jack Michel pioneered the project with the support of fellow Vietnam War veterans Dr. Patrick Welch and Al Brusetti, These veterans, working with Higgins, have successfully added the names of 280 fallen soldiers to the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, the largest number of names ever submitted at once.
“Vietnam veterans were shown little or no support when we came home and we felt it was time to honor those who gave their lives for their country and to show the respect we all deserved so many years ago,” said Jack Michel, USMC & Vietnam War veteran who spearheaded the project.
The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who have been injured or killed in action against the enemy while serving with the U.S. Armed Services. The original Purple Heart, first designated the ‘Badge of Military Merit,’ was established by General George Washington in 1782.
The event was held at the Purple Heart Memorial along the Walk of Heroes at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park on August 7, National Purple Heart Day. The monument was dedicated in 2010 thanks to the efforts of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Buffalo Chapter 187.
On May 24th, 2002 the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was established in New Windsor, NY. The Hall of Honor includes a searchable website available to the public: www.thepurpleheart.com.
Anita Pidala, Director of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor said, “The NPHHOH’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the stories of Purple Heart recipients. The Roll of Honor, an electronic database of Purple Heart recipients is the primary way in which we share that information. It is a work in progress as there is no comprehensive list of recipients to draw. We rely on recipients, their families and friends as well as other supportive individuals to help us build the Roll of Honor. We are especially thankful to Congressman Higgins and his staff for their efforts in helping to bring recognition to 280 Western New York Purple Heart recipients from Vietnam. This is particularly important at this time, as this year is the 40th anniversary of the end of the United States mission in Vietnam. We hope that the efforts of Congressman Higgins’s office will inspire others to help us honor and recognize Purple Heart recipients for their service and sacrifice. “
Several members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77 and the Military Order of the Purple Heart Buffalo Chapter 187 and Niagara Falls Chapter 264 participated in the announcement including: Jack Michel, USMC, Past VP of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77; Dr. Patrick Welch, USMC Service Officer & Past President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77; Al Brusetti, US Army, Past President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77; Ken Speaker, Army, Commander for the Buffalo Chapter 187 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Russ Ward, Army, 3rd Vice Commander for the Buffalo Chapter 187 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Robert Segool, USMC, Chaplain for the Buffalo Chapter 187 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; Ronald Krul, US Army, Adjutant, of the Niagara Falls Chapter 264 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart; and Michael Targon, USMC, Commander of the Niagara Falls Chapter 264 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Dr. Patrick W. Welch, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), Past President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 77 and veteran advocate said, “On this day, National Purple Heart Day, we recognize 280 members of our community who gave all they had in the service of our country during the Vietnam War. This project of 8 years, led by Jack Michel, is the largest single induction of Purple Heart Recipients into The Purple Heart Hall of Honor since it was created. We hope other communities will get involved and honor their service members.”
Over 350,000 Purple Hearts were awarded for Vietnam Veterans alone. Nearly 60,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and 150,000 more were wounded.
If you have a family member who has received a Purple Heart and you are interested in entering their name into the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor please visit the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor’s website at www.thepurpleheart.com or call 845-561-1765.