Posted: 6:52 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012

Wounded vets gather for Purple Heart Day

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Wounded vets gather for Purple Heart Day photo
Bill Lackey
Holding a salute during the playing of “TAPS” are, from left, Jim Pinkerton, Wilbur Bryant and Robert Ehrhart. The WWII veterans were attending the National Purple Heart Day Ceremony held at the Purple Heart monument next to the Springfield Post Office on Tuesday. Staff photo by Bill Lackey

By Andrew McGinn

Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD —

When Tyler Ogden deployed to Iraq last year for six months, he didn’t think for a second he could be hurt.

“Never in a million years,” said Ogden, a 2000 graduate of Northwestern High School and a member of the Springfield-based 178th Security Forces Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard.

But, despite the fact that the war in Iraq was coming to a close, Ogden was wounded in a rocket attack last July. He was 26 days from coming home.

“It didn’t feel real,” he recalled. “It felt like it was a daydream and a nightmare all in one.”

In a split-second, a shrapnel wound made him eligible to become a life member of the most selective of veterans organizations — the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The men of Clark County’s Chapter 620 gathered Tuesday to observe National Purple Heart Day, first with a brief ceremony at the monument they erected in 2005 near the Springfield post office and then with a luncheon at the Springfield Air National Guard Base, where Ogden still works.

Many people don’t know that Aug. 7 is a national holiday dedicated to the men and women who’ve received the medal.

“It ain’t on nobody’s calendar,” said Dave Bauer, the commander of Chapter 620 who was wounded in Vietnam in 1969.

Ironically, a calendar given out at the luncheon by the Clark County Veterans Office doesn’t even list Purple Heart Day.

“A lot of people don’t even know it exists,” said Lowell Norton, an 89-year-old Springfield resident who took a sniper’s bullet in France on Aug. 6, 1944, with the 83rd Infantry.

Mike Spradlin, co-owner of Spradlin Bros. Welding, was among the few members of the public to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

He brought a restored Army jeep mounted with a mock M60 machine gun, and tries to attend as many veterans’ events with it as possible.

“Once their face lights up and they shake your hand,” Spradlin said, “it’s worth it.”

Chapter 620, which has about 70 members, has been working to raise awareness, not only of the holiday that honors their sacrifices, but of the Purple Heart itself. The Purple Heart is awarded only to those service members who are wounded in combat or killed.

“One guy asked, ‘How do I join your club?’ ” Bauer said. “It blew my mind. I told him, ‘Sir, first of all, it’s not a club.’ “

Recently, Chapter 620 was instrumental behind having signs placed along North Fountain Avenue proclaiming, “Purple Heart Way,” in honor of the route taken by Clark County’s annual Memorial Day parade.

But, at 30, Ogden is the chapter’s youngest member by far.

“I want to show these guys I can become one of them someday,” Ogden said.

 
 

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