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Purple Hearts Reunited announces September family return ceremonies

The Purple Hearts Reunited foundation has announced the return of two awards earned in World War I to the families of the soldier recipients in New York and Maine during September.

On 05 September 2019, Purple Hearts Reunited reunited the lost Lady of Columbia Wound Certificate of WWI hero Corporal (CPL) Frederick W. Beisswanger with his daughter and grandson. The event will took place at the family’s home in Saratoga Springs NY.

Purple Hearts Reunited logoKnown as a Lady of Columbia Wound Certificate, these lithographs show a toga-wearing woman knighting an infantry soldier on bended knee. They were awarded to wounded or killed World War I military members; prior to the Purple Heart being established in 1932. World War I service members who had already received a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart at that time. As time passes, certain circumstances can lead to these medals or wound certificates being misplaced, lost, or even stolen. Below is a short biography of CPL Frederick W. Beisswanger.

CPL Fredrick W. Beisswanger was born 22 June 1895 in Elmira, NY to German immigrants, Martin and Catherine (Fitzer) Beisswanger. CPL Beisswanger was inducted into the US Army at Wellsboro, PA on 18 September 1917 and assigned to Company B, 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division. He served overseas from 8 July 1918 to 11 February 1919 and was present for all engagements at Malancourt, Montfaucon, Nantillois and Argonne. CPL Beisswanger was severely Wounded in Action on 2 Oct 1918, taking large amounts of shrapnel to his right leg. He returned to the US and was honorably discharged on 1 March 1919.

He married Catherine Mae Focht in Manhattan, NY and resided in Rhode Island for a few years before moving to Wellsboro, PA. His wife Catherine died of cancer on 16 Jan 1934 at the age of 46; they had no children. In 1935, while living in Corning, NY, he married Margaret Doctor “Nana” and from this marriage they had a daughter, Mildred. On 2 Dec 1955, at the age of 60, he passed away and is buried at the Hope Cemetery located in Corning, NY.

CPL Beisswanger’s Lady of Columbia was amongst a family’s estate and was turned in to Purple Hearts Reunited by a couple from Paso Robles, CA. They turned to Purple Hearts Reunited for help to ensure the Certificate made its way home. CPL Beisswanger’s long lost Lady of Columbia Wound Certificate will be reunited with his daughter, Mildred (Beisswanger) Green of Saratoga Springs, NY and his grandson Daniel Green of Worcester, MA.

This return was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Mabee Family Foundation of Saratoga Springs, New York.

On 12 September 2019, Purple Hearts Reunited reunited the lost Purple Heart of World War One hero Sergeant (SGT) Erroll Wilbert Brawn. The event took place at Camp Chamberlain, Joint Forces Headquarters, Maine Army National Guard, 23 Blue Star Avenue, Augusta, Maine. Below is a short biography of SGT Erroll Wilbert Brawn.

SGT Brawn was born on 08 July 1890 in Guilford, Maine. He enlisted in the National Guard on 24 June 1916, for service on the Mexican Border. SGT Brawn reported for Federal service on 13 April 1917 at the time of Maine National Guard’s call to serve in the Great War.

SGT Brawn served with Company F, 103rd Infantry Regiment, 26th YANKEE Division. Erroll was overseas from 25 September 1917 to 02 October 1919 and saw action at Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, and the Defensive Sector. He was severely wounded on 16 June 1918 in France. Errol would recover and was sent back into action. Erroll was honorably discharged on 09 May 1919 and returned home. He was later awarded Purple Heart # 81189 in 1932. Erroll died on 28 January 1978.

With the help of Purple Hearts Reunited, SGT Brawn’s elderly nephew was located in Guilford, Maine. Through discussion, the family has requested the organization’s help to find the medal a home of honor so that the medal can be honored for years to come. SGT Brawn’s Purple Heart will be donated to the Maine Army National Guard to be displayed in their Joint Forces Headquarters in Augusta, Maine. A small ceremony will be held with members of the Guard to honor SGT Brawn’s service and sacrifice a century ago.

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington – then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. The Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three Revolutionary War soldiers by General George Washington himself. General Washington authorized his subordinate officers to issue Badges of Merit as appropriate. From then on, as its legend grew, so did its appearance. Although never abolished, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work of a new design and by Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was
revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Order No. 3, dated February 22, 1932. Today, the Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917.

An estimated 1.8 Million Purple Hearts have been awarded in our nation’s history. Today, in addition to being awarded to those who fight overseas, the Purple Heart is also given to military personnel who display bravery and valor as prisoners of war and while fighting certain types of domestic terrorist.

Purple Hearts Reunited is a nonprofit foundation that returns lost, stolen or misplaced medals of valor to veterans or their families in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. Since its beginning, the organization has returned over 650 lost medals, traveled over 100,000 miles, visited over 42 States, and has directly affected the lives of over 1 Million people. Purple Hearts Reunited has been featured on CNN, NBC Nightly News, Fox and Friends, NPR, Reader's Digest and was also highlighted on the popular History Channel show American Pickers.

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