A misplaced Purple Heart medal discovered by a couple in California was returned to its rightful owners in Myrtle Point, Oregon. On 21 March 2015, the nonprofit organization Purple Hearts Reunited (PHR) conducted a public ceremony to return the Purple Heart to CPL Ralph George Fisher’s family. The event took place at the Lee Ray VFW Post 2928 meeting hall in Myrtle Point, Oregon. CPL Fisher’s cousin, Mrs. Bette Gulseth, received the long-lost medal.
Ralph George Fisher was born on 12 July 1927, the son of Ralph and Helen Fisher of Santa Cruz, CA. Fisher served in the Navy from 04 May 1945 to 03 August 1946, then enlisted in the Army in November 1946, serving in World War II. He re-enlisted on 17 Jul 1950 and served in the Korean War with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. CPL Fisher’s unit was operating near Mundung-ni northeast of the Hwach’on Reservoir, Korea when he was wounded on 20 June 1952. CPL Fisher lost his life on 23 June 1952, and is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, CA in Section R, Site 1757. CPL Fisher’s awards, in addition to the Purple Heart, include the Navy Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, United Nations Korea Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Because his service records were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO in 1973, this is a partial reconstruction of his commendations and may not be an exhaustive list.
The Purple Heart awarded to CPL Fisher was discovered by Oscar and Frances Chroust, along with a 48-star U.S. flag, amongst family belongings. The Chrousts, from Sacramento, CA, contacted Purple Hearts Reunited for help locating Fisher’s more direct family. A coordinated effort between Purple Hearts Reunited, Fundamentals of Genealogy, and Chroust’s family friend, Bette Thatcher, CPL Fisher’s first cousin was located and contacted. The medal, after being repaired and framed in a commemorative display alongside the flag, was received by Mrs. Bette Gulseth on behalf of the family. Gulseth remembers her cousin Ralph, having grown up with him, and shared fond memories at the ceremony on 21 March. This commemorative ceremony was open to the public and media, as well as representatives from regional veterans service organizations.
The Purple Heart medal return ceremony was made possible by a generous donation from the Antonio & Rita Pomerleau Foundation.
Read more about the story in the Coquille Valley Courant >> Group Reunites Medals with Recipient’s Family