Earl Harvey Hanson has been around for almost a century, but there is a certain period in his life that he has often told to friends, family and strangers.
It was his time aboard the USS Rich, a destroyer assigned during the second world WAR to escort duty during the Normandy invasion of 1944. Hanson, who is manning a cannon on the deck, was wounded and thrown overboard when a mine detonated directly under the ship.
The USS Rich sank after a third mine exploded. Scores of men working on the ship died, and Hanson suffered a punctured lung, some broken ribs and internal injuries.
Recently, Hanson’s heroism was recognized with a Purple Heart, given to service members who are injured or killed while in action.
But it came in the mail, which led to an attempt of his family members, and others in his small hometown of Ballard, West Virginia, in search of a more high-profile, appropriate way to honor Hanson’s sacrifice.
Expand / Collapse
Purple Heart recipient Earl Harvey Hanson, who was injured in the second world War.
And so, on 4 June, about 100 people from the city and veterans’ groups to discuss the Purple Heart presented to Hanson, now 95 years old.
“It is a big deal for them,” said Jack L. Keel, the executive officer at the Navy Submarine Torpedo Facility in Yorktown, in Virginia, refers to the people of Ballard, of Keel.
Kiel will be the presentation of the Purple Heart Hanson.
He deserves the best of our country. I hope that he is proud to see that people still recognize veterans.
– Jeannette Sibert, granddaughter of Purple Heart recipient
“I want to do everything in my power to make this special for him,” Kiel told Fox News, noting that Hanson is one of the last living World War II Navy veterans. “When the war was over, people just went home. They didn’t stick around to get medals. I am honored to do this for someone from my hometown.”
The bureaucratic issues that get in the way of a proper and timely recognition for veterans prompted organizations such as the Veterans Legacy Foundation to help those who have served — or, in the case of the deceased, their family members – to petition for the medals.
Often, said the nonprofit organization’s executive director, John Elskamp, the delays are due to lost paperwork, or supervision.
“Sometimes it slips through the cracks,” said Elskamp, an air force veteran and one of the founders of the foundation. “People forget it. Of course, the veteran is not forgotten.”
Hanson’s granddaughter, Jeanette Sibert, said that when Hanson got the medal in the e-mail, “It was like he won the lottery.”
Sibert said that she thought that the honor had to be celebrated in a big way.
“He deserves the best of our country,” she told Fox News. “We want the Purple Heart presented to him well. It is a huge accomplishment. I hope that he is proud to see that people still recognize veterans. They are the ones that keep Americans safe, they protect our freedom.”
Elizabeth Llorente is a Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente