Josh Rivera, Correspondent
On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 11, Belton’s VFW Post 4008 was designated a Purple Heart Post by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. In attendance were Post Commander Gary Leofsky, Military Order of the Purple Heart State Commander Jon Lunkwicz and Chief of Staff-South Lazaro O. Camarillo, III, and the post members of Post 4008.
“The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration which was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington in 1782, and is the oldest medal, military decoration still in use today,” said Lunkwicz during his opening statements. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any Armed Forces member wounded or killed in action while serving under competent authority.
A VFW Post must first be nominated to the Military Order of the Purple Heart to begin the process of the designation. Typically, there should be at least one Purple Heart recipient in the Post’s membership. Once that is established, the designating Purple Heart Post sign is designed and produced, and members of the Order travel to hold the ceremony.
“They contacted me about a month ago and asked me if I would like to be considered for a Purple Heart Post, and I think it’s a great honor for all the veterans,” said Leofsky. “Just thank those veterans out there. If they want some place to go, then they’re welcome to come here. We’re here to support all veterans.”
“Our organization is comprised of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat,” said Lunkwicz. “It is especially an honor to recognize today, the outstanding members of VFW 4008 of Belton, Texas.”
“I’ve been in this Post here about 35 years. I’ve been a member of the VFW since 1976,” said Purple Heart recipient Linnie McCall. “I went in the army in April 1967. I landed in Vietnam on October 5, 1967. Around April the 25th of 1968 is when I was wounded in action.” McCall had an impressive and imposing wooden cane etched with the symbol of the Purple Heart, with the head of a bald eagle for the top.
“It’s just to let the public know that they are out there,” McCall said, reflecting on the ceremony. “We’re not looking for any big recognition, just awareness. Folks were wounded in action, no fault of their own. It was just a matter of wrong place, wrong time.”
“We serve a purpose, just like every other veterans’ organization out there,” McCall said. “We’re all fighting for our veterans and their benefits. It’s just an ongoing struggle.”