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Pa. veteran receives third Purple Heart 57 years late

February 10, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Fifty-seven years after the end of World War II, 2nd Lt. William G. Lane Jr., 80, received a Purple Heart for wounds he received in battle in France.

Lane, of Hustontown, Pa., had previously received two Purple Hearts for wounds and two Bronze Stars for valor.

Lane's nephew, Walter Lane Sr., said he loved to hear his uncle's stories of the war, but wondered about something.

"He was wounded three times, and he received two Purple Hearts. I asked him why, and he said, 'The corpsmen were busy.' I thought it was just and right that he should get the award."

In July 2000, Walter Lane began to research records.

"I hit a few dead ends," he said, "then I got a break on some records from the Sons of the American Legion."

He received notification in August 2002 that the Purple Heart would be awarded to his uncle.

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George C. Cutchall, a former Marine who is commander of American Legion Post 561 in McConnellsburg, Pa., welcomed Lane's family and friends to the ceremony and read the citation that accompanied the awarding of the Purple Heart.

Lt. Col. John Koivisto, Garrison Commander of Carlisle Barracks, presented the award to Lane.

After congratulating Lane, Koivisto said, "It's a tremendous honor for an active duty soldier to set the record straight for a combat veteran. This represents a tremendous sacrifice for his nation."

While Koivisto has presented many awards, this is the first Purple Heart he has given to a veteran.

Lane said he felt honored to receive the Purple Heart.

"I feel very humble about it," he said. "I was glad I was able to serve and carry on. There were numerous occasions when I could have been wounded but wasn't. I was protected by God."

Many of Lane's relatives attended the ceremony, including his wife, Elva, several sisters, and his brother, Ben. The brothers had fought together in WWII, and both are listed on the Wall of Remembrance in Europe.

They worked at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg for many years.

The American Legion post's honor guard presented the colors at the start of the ceremony.

John Glazier, president of the Home Association of the American Legion, said this was the first Purple Heart ceremony for the honor guard, which formed in 1973.

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