WWII Vet's quest for Purple Heart

Liza Fernandez

WWII Vet's quest for Purple Heart

CREATED Aug. 20, 2012

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A World War II veteran -- denied a purple heart after 4 years on a US destroyer in the Pacific  is coming to 4 In Your Corner for help.
He wants to know what else he can do to get what he says is deservedly his. 

The navy destroyer USS Ellet saw a lot of action in the Pacific during World War II.

"It was a fighting little destroyer. There was 16 of us when the war started, and when the war was over there were 2 of us left afloat," Harry Breeman remembers fondly.

The Cape Coral veteran's 4 years escorting convoys and defending against aerial attacks changed his life for ever.

"I was machine gunning 'em. He came in. I waited just a little too long saving my ammunition, and he got in close enough that when he blew up, why he burned me real bad on the arms, and ripped my face open and put some shrapnel in my abdomen," he tells us.

Harry's new battle is against the VA and the Department of Defense.
He not only feels he's more disabled than the VA will acknowledge, but he was also just denied a Purple Heart weeks before his 90th birthday.
A letter from congress explained the ships logs don't mention any deaths or injuries.
And in fact they don't.
 
"I'm fighting a losing battle," he fears.

And that's an outcome Harry's not used to. 
So we emailed the VA and called the Purple Heart Organization.
A VA spokesperson in Tampa is working to get more information.
And the Purple Heart Organization says eye witnesses are Harry's only hope.
But time is running out.

"You want to know my exact feelings? I feel they're waiting for me to die," says Harry.

He just hopes the honor he and all world war two vets should feel doesn't die too.

"The old boys that were known as the greatest generation are the now the forgotten generation," says Harry.

Harry admits to not telling his higher ups about his injuries for fear of being sent home.
And we are working with the VA on this.
But in the meantime, if you know anyone who served on the USS Ellet frim 1941 to '45, let us know, so maybe Harry Beeman can get that honor he says he so deserves.

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