WWII Vet receives Purple Heart
Navy veteran Harry Beeman now proudly holds the Purple Heart in his hands but says n he'll never pin it to his chest.Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL, FLa. - Just days after his 90th birthday, a World War II veteran from Cape Coral finally recieves a Purple Heart but he says he'll never pin it to his chest.
Navy gunner Harry Beeman remembers his days on the water fondly.
"When I heard that planes were coming in, I thought man oh man this is going to be a good day. I thought it might be the last day..." remembers Beeman.
That day never came. Instead Harry lived to fight 4 years in nearly every major battle in the Pacific on the USS Ellet, although he did have a close call one day.
"I was machine-gunning a Japanese torpedo bomber, and I waited a little too long to pull the trigger. He came in and when I hit him, he blew up and he killed 2 guys on my ship and he burned my arms and gave me a cut across here," says Beeman.
Injuries Harry is having a hard time documenting for the military... and why he was denied a Purple Heart.
"I really know that I'm entitled to a Purple Heart, but I doubt if I'll ever get one," he says.
That's until a fellow foreign war brother and Vietnam vet gave Harry his Purple Heart.
And Harry's honored to hold the medal, but says he'll never pin it to his chest.
"While I appreciate the man's gesture, I don't feel that's one that I earned," he explains.
But Harry is holding out hope. The military recently announced changes to the criteria for awarding the medal of valor.
"They said they now have a hundred more people they're getting ready to give a Purple Heart." he says.
While Harry's not sure he's on the list, he says in the meantime, he'll be taking it one day at a time.
"Here I am, 70 years later in paradise, in Cape Coral, Florida, and I'm on the biggest canal, in Cape Coral. Isn't that beautiful? So it was a happy ending," he says.
Harry is also very excited about what he's got going on later this week.
He's flying to Washington DC and will be laying a wreath at the Iwo Jima Memorial - a battle he was also involved in.