Purple Heart Recipients Gather in Union County

KELLY TOWNSHIP -- It was a sea of purple and gold inside the Best Western Plus Country Cupboard Inn near Lewisburg.  Around 40 veterans from Pennsylvania held their yearly conference to discuss veterans issues.  They are the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and there are very specific criteria to become a member.

"You've gotta go get your butt shot off.  These are combat warriors who have been wounded in action.  That's what the Purple Heart is all about,” Colonel Michael Gould said.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart has around 2,500 members in Pennsylvania.

"I was wounded in 1967. I had a round drop behind me. I was sent to the hospital for three months,” Mike Mesciagave said.

These Purple Heart recipients visit other vets in the hospital and go to veterans' funerals.  Lieutenant Colonel Dean Clark is a World War II veteran.  He joined the Merchant Marines when he was 16.

"When I got out, I missed the camaraderie.  I went to my chapter meeting.  The second meeting I went to they asked me to be the commander,” Colonel Dean Clark said.

Clark has 35 years of active duty and also has his Ph.D. in microbiology.  He lost some friends in World War II, and on this day, he still gets emotional when he looks back 73 years to D-Day.

“Well what it means to me, my friend General Mike Gould in the blue.  I can't talk about it.  I can't,” Clark said.

The veterans had a ceremony Tuesday morning to honor the 57 Purple Heart recipients who died this year in Pennsylvania.  Their banquet is Tuesday night.