Wounded veterans meet to form group

A group of local war veterans are attempting to form a Clermont County chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The first meeting took place at the Batavia Greenbriar Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in the VFW Post #3954 building Aug. 16.

“Unfortunately, there has never been a chapter started in Clermont County,” said meeting organizer and Korean War veteran Ralph “Gunny” Lang. “We need to have 12 purple heart recipients who were born and raised in Clermont County to sign up and become members in order to receive a charter from the national order. Tonight is only the introductory phase of this endeavor.”

The Military Order of the Purple Heart has 21 chapters in Ohio, two in Cincinnati. The organization, formed in 1932, is exclusively for those combat veterans who have earned the military decoration and/or their immediate family members. The order is a way of protecting and honoring all those who have received the Purple Heart medal over the years.

Lang, who received his Purple Heart after being wounded during the Korean War in 1954, said that his goal is to help organize and form a local chapter to honor all of the worthy Clermont County combat wounded veterans.

“The Purple Heart is specifically a combat decoration,” he said. “Some of our goals in forming this chapter will be to continue in the tradition of providing services to all veterans and their families, providing help for veteran’s hospitals, form scholarship funds, and instill patriotism in the community.”

The Purple Heart, which was established by then General George Washington in 1782, is the oldest American military decoration and the first American award available to the common soldier.

Helping in the effort to form the chapter is Bethel resident, Vietnam War veteran, and Purple Heart recipient Howard Daugherty.

“We are encouraged by the 10 Purple Heart recipients here tonight,” he said. “But we would like to get the word out that we are still a couple of people short of the necessary 12 members. This is not a new idea. We have been tossing this idea around for awhile now and we are optimistic and determined to get this started.”

At the meeting, all 10 interested Purple Heart recipients introduced themselves to the group while holding hands in a “circle of combat.” There was a discussion period of the likelihood of forming the chapter and plans were made to meet every month.

Any Purple Heart recipient who would like to become a member of the Clermont County chapter of the national order can call Ralph Lang at (513) 752-6779.