PURPLE HEART UPDATE: Bakersfield lady finds success in mission to reunite misplaced Purple Coronary heart
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – A Bakersfield woman’s mission to reunite a lost Purple Heart medal with the family of a late World War II veteran has proven successful.
Clarence Vernie Hawksley served as the US Army Captain for the 382nd Infantry Regiment, 96th Infantry Division from 1942 to 1946. Decades later, however, the Purple Heart Medal, presented to him during his service, is not in the possession of his family. Bakersfield’s own Karen Galyan did everything to change that.
“It has to go home,” she said last week of the Purple Heart, a US military medal given to men and women who have been wounded or killed on duty.
Someone found the medal in Bakersfield in January at the intersection of 8th Street and T Street and given it to the portrait in a warrior gallery. Galyan immediately led efforts to return the medal to its owner.
Hawksley died in 1963, and his wife and only daughter died a few years later. However, after weeks of searching, Galyan found a living relative.
“This purple heart is finally going home and we will have completed the mission,” said Galyan excitedly after successfully locating Hawksley’s granddaughter Laura Garrod, a resident of Bullhead City, AZ.
“I was shocked. I was shocked to learn it was found,” Garrod said, explaining that she believes that five years ago someone broke into her half-brother’s truck in Kern County and stole the medal.
Garrod said she and her family are grateful that they will soon have the medal in their possession. “I am very grateful. The family is very grateful to hear that they are returning to the family. We are very happy.”
She also thanks Galyan for her efforts. Galyan, a Gold Star mom who endured the pain of losing her own son LCpl David Cole Lang David Cole Lang David Cole Lang said her son was proud.
“My heart was very sad. My son jumped into my heart and said, “Oh no mom, we’re going to have a mission. I’ll get a purple heart in your hands and we’ll bring it home. ‘”
Galyan plans to portray the Purple Heart to relatives in a portrait of a warrior gallery as part of a larger ceremony on March 29 at 9 a.m. – National Vietnam War Veterans Day.