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Purple Heart vets seek out comrades
Purple Heart vets seek out comrades
By SUE REID
Solon veterans Harry Crawford and Ron Mohr are on a mission.
They are looking to establish Solon as the first Military Purple Heart chapter in Cuyahoga County. To do so, they are asking that residents who have been awarded the Purple Heart step forward.
"We are looking for Solon members specifically to impress upon the Military Order of the Purple Heart how many Purple Heart veterans there are in Solon alone," said Mr. Crawford, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Once a list of those veterans is established, they will serve as a core membership group for the county's first chapter, Mr. Crawford said, and then membership will be available to Purple Heart veterans from all over. "We will take that core group and expand it," he said.
According to the charter for the Military Order of the Purple Heart, to form a chapter, 12 living members are needed. Based on the number of Solon residents listed on the city's memorial in Veterans Memorial Park, Mr. Crawford said, he believes there are many more than that living in the city.
"They all have received the Military Order of the Purple Heart, in addition to other awards," he said.
The Purple Heart medal, considered the "hero award," is made to those who were either killed or wounded by hostile fire fighting for their country in every war since World War I, Mr. Crawford said. The Purple Heart is awarded in all branches of military service.
Mr. Crawford, who served with the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division, received his Purple Heart on July 14, 1970, after being injured in Vietnam. He displays it on a wall in his home, he said. "A long time ago, I made a memorial of all my medals," he said.
"We think it would be quite an honor for not only the city but for the people who live in Solon," Mr. Crawford said of having the first chapter in the county.
Unlike some veterans organizations, the Military Order of the Purple Heat does not have its own headquarters, he said. "All of us can belong to those different groups, but to belong to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, it is a restricted group. The only way to get in is to have suffered wounds in combat."
Mr. Crawford said the goals of forming the chapter are to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among wounded veterans, as well as to promote patriotism and support legislative initiatives. Most importantly, he said, the chapter would provide service to veterans and their families, as well as undertake a proactive representation of public opinions that seek to improve the status and stature of veterans and their survivors.
"In general, we support anything that will make the life of the existing veteran better," Mr. Crawford said. That can include how to better receive health benefits they are entitled to, he said, adding that many veterans are homeless. "We can work toward what we can do to help the plight," he said.
"We are another legislative body, no different than the VFW," Mr. Crawford said.
"There's a mutual benefit," Mr. Mohr said. "We all want to collaborate," he said.
"We are not necessarily a separate organization," he said. "We are all veterans, and we have the same mission, goals and objectives, and that is in helping veterans. We all have our own unique issues."
Mr. Mohr, also a veteran of the U.S. Army, was wounded in the Vietnam War while in the 1st Infantry Division.
He said there is a movement nationwide to designate cities, counties and states as homes to Military Purple Heart chapters. "It's exciting," Mr. Mohr said. "We're coming more to the forefront."
Mr. Crawford said wounded veterans face many challenges and issues. "For so many of us, a lot of our wives often wonder, 'We have lived together 40 years, and how can something that occurred so long ago that you spent a little over a year doing still have such an impact on you?'" he said.
"It's difficult to explain the intensity that one gets from being involved in a total combat situation where nothing but fear and horror seem to abound for a very short period of time," Mr. Crawford said. "Usually, warfare is weeks and months of boredom followed by minutes of total terror, but it's something that really shakes your life.
"It's something we don't forget," he said. "Some are minor wounds, and others are major wounds. People have lost limbs, but they have one thing in common. They have done the job that they have set out to do for the country," he said. "Whether their goal was patriotism or something else, the fact is, they put themselves in harm's way, and they are struggling to do the best with what they've got."
Purple Heart recipients living in Solon are asked to call Mr. Crawford at 440-796-9814.
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