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Mon, Nov. 11

Purple Heart anniversary is Thursday

Tomorrow marks the 226th anniversary of the Purple Heart, the oldest military decoration in the United States.

The Prescott chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, #608 includes more than 50 members of retired Purple Heart veterans. It is named after Dr. John R. Tapia, Major USA (Ret.), a veteran of World War II and Korean War, and recipient of seven Purple Hearts.

The national and local mission of MOPH is to create a bond between the chapter and combat-wounded veterans, said Al Santillan, Jr., USMC (Ret.) and commander of the Prescott chapter. The group supports military legislative issues and provides services to veterans and their families.

The WMoV program began in 2002, and is the first medal authorized by the National Congress of Indians to honor all veterans regardless of cultural background. It has awarded more than than 65,000 medals to veterans.

"This medal does not come from the government. It comes from the heart of the First Native American People," he said.

This past March, Willard Oliver, 86, one of the last living Navajo Code Talkers, received the Warrior Medal during a ceremony at the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

Currently, the Prescott chapter has awarded 477 Warrior Medals to veterans. They plan to award an additional 125 medals to VA patients in October.

The Prescott MOPH chapter meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. at the Vet Center, 161 S. Granite Street in Prescott.

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