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Return of a Purple Heart Medal delayed in Summerville

Return of a Purple Heart Medal delayed in Summerville

WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:

In Myrtle Beach today the organization Purple Heart Reunited gave the family of a WWII vet a Purple Heart lost for years. Then they were supposed to head to Summerville for a ceremony Wednesday evening, but due to a personal issue, founder Zachariah Fike, had to rush back to Vermont.

The niece of the late veteran was set to receive the medal in the exchange which has been in the works for 18-months.

Joan Bilsback said it has been a while since she has seen her uncle who died 1985 at the age of 66.

“There is actually nobody alive now who remembers him except me and my cousin. He was very sweet very kind with me but he was quiet.”

Her uncle was Army Private Robert Lamar Swinson, who fought in Asia during WWII.  Bilsback believed her uncle suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was a condition in a time when there was less understanding but Bilsback and her family could tell there was something different.   

“The big thing that everyone always said was how much he had changed- He was very quiet.”

Swinson received the Purple Heart from his time in action-- His sister had the medal in Georgia but since her death it had slipped though the family's fingers, that is until it was mailed care of the Fulton County Police Department to Zachariah Fike and Purple Heart Reunited.

From the name engraving on the back Fike tracked some of Swinson’s surviving family.

A year and a half later a proper exchange to his niece is planned in Summerville and while it didn't happen as scheduled-- Bilsback says she is not worried about the delay saying for her it may be less about her uncle’s medal but more about what it represents.

“My uncle was a good man he did what he had to do; came back and lived a very quiet life and you wonder how many people are out there like him, who slipped between the cracks. I think I have been thinking about that more than anything.”

Purple Heart Reunited has not yet released a firm date on when they can return to deliver the medal.

Photo Credit: larry1235 Shutterstock

 

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