In a special joint ceremony honoring two WWII veterans in San Antonio, TX on 24 July 2015, a medal was restored and preserved in our nation’s history. PVT Joseph Eugene “Gene” Bone (SN: 34769630) was born 19 August 1920 in Taylor County, Georgia to Joseph Jackson and Eva Fannie Mott Bone. He had one sister. He enlisted 28 April 1943 and went on to serve with the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division during WWII. PVT Bone had survived the amphibious landing at Salerno, participated in the capture of the village San Pietro despite strong enemy positions and severe winter weather, and ultimately sacrificed his life on 07 FEB 1944 as the Division attempted to secure a bridgehead across the Rapido River from 01 January – 08 February 1944. He is buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy (Plot G, Row 11, Grave 3). He was one of 2,655 Georgians who sacrificed their life in WWII.PVT Bone’s awards and decorations consist of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge.
In January 2014, Mr. Gariel Burchett, a veteran, contacted the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He had found the Purple Heart while cleaning out their family homestead. Since PVT Bone’s direct family is no longer living, the medal will rest in a home of honor. It was presented in a joint ceremony (along with the Purple Heart of PFC James Thomas Hull) to Major General Lester Simpson, the Commanding General of the 36th Infantry Division, who will display the framed medals at the division headquarters in Austin, Texas, where they will be honored and protected by current and future soldiers.
Remarkably, because of the work of Purple Hearts Reunited to restore valor to the original owners of these misplaced medals, the lost Purple Hearts of three members of the 36th Infantry Division found a home of honor within a week’s time.
This joint return ceremony was generously sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation.