Saluting The Purple Hearts of FriscoNov 01, 2020 ● By Allie Spletter
The Purple Heart medal is a combat decoration presented to service members who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the United States Military. It is awarded posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. A Purple Heart serves as a solemn distinction and means a service member has greatly sacrificed themselves, or paid the ultimate price, while in the line of duty. According to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, more than 1.8 million Purple Heart medals have been presented to service members since the award was created. In 1782, President George Washington created and designed the Badge of Military Merit in the form of a cloth purple heart, which later evolved into what we now know as the Purple Heart, the oldest military award still presented to American service members. Frisco is a Purple Heart City, a distinction that allows residents and veterans alike to honor those who serve in the military, veterans, those who have served in combat and their families.
Frisco prides itself on so many things, and its list of Purple Heart recipients serves as a reminder of an intense pride for those who have worked and continue to work so hard to keep us safe. As we meet some of our Purple Heart recipients, their stories prove that bravery, sacrifice and love of country all played roles in their incredible stories.
Sargent First Class Dana CarrollUnited States Army Purple Heart 1953
Mr. Carroll was born in Kingsport, Tenn., experiencing a life of extreme poverty before he was drafted into the Army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Mr. Carroll served from 1942 until he retired in 1963 after serving in World War II and the Korean War. Sargent First Class (SFC) Carroll served with the Sixth Army’s 555th Pontoon Bridge Company. While in the process of delivering heavy bridge material, his unit’s Officer in Charge got lost and the company stopped in a large field at the base of Pork Chop Hill where they came under fire from enemy soldiers firing mortar rounds that damaged the equipment. SFC Carroll was wounded when a piece of the equipment toppled over onto him during the attack.
Now, 102 years old, Mr. Carroll looks back on the attack that led to his earning of The Purple Heart and says, “The Korean soldiers’ attack caused my injuries. I didn’t realize its importance at the time but am extremely proud now.” Of his time serving in the Army, Mr. Carroll recalls, “Although the army was racially segregated, I met and made friends with soldiers from many places.” Mr. Carroll’s most memorable moment of his service was the desegregation of the Army by President Truman. “Since the white soldiers had living quarters and supplies superior to black soldiers, I was overjoyed over the change,” Mr. Carroll explains. When asked what advice he has for young people considering serving in the military, Mr. Carroll believes there are no feelings of pride exceeding those from serving our country. “Everyone should seriously consider some branch of the military for at least a year. In addition to receiving a dependable and sturdy income, I learned so many skills,” he shares. At the age of 102, Mr. Carroll says he now enjoys the memories of 20 years of experience in the Army followed by his work at the Washington Juvenile Center, his own lawn care business and a blessed life.
Hospitalman Shane EdmaistonUnited States Navy Purple Heart 2005
A graduate of Gunter High School, Mr. Edmaiston joined the Navy after taking his future into his own hands. He recalls, “I had realized myself and college weren’t going see eye to eye, and I wasn’t going to allow myself to become stagnant, so I saw it as a quick and positive change.” Mr. Edmaiston served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman (medic) and was attached to a Marine Corps infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion 7th Marines. He explains, “… the Marine Corps didn't have medics and they have always been supplied by the Navy. I served from 2004 to 2006 and my rank was ‘Hospitalman’ (E-3).” Mr. Edmaiston was injured in Fallujah, Iraq on October 14, 2005. He recalls, “I was on a dismounted (foot) patrol where our mission was to clear any and all vehicles near what a voting site would be the next day. It was the first-time women were allowed to vote, so extra conflict was expected. After clearing the second voting site and walking back to our base, two teenaged boys walking behind us threw a hand grenade each, one at me and one at the Marine opposite of me. Mine blew up six to eight feet from me. Thankfully the grenades were Russian grenades left from the 80s conflict, so they were not as deadly, for lack of a better term. I only encountered minor injuries from the shrapnel and was knocked out for a few seconds.”
Mr. Edmaiston says his favorite part of his service was without a doubt the guys he served with. “The way we so easily went from strangers to family caused by the circumstances still amazes me to this day,” he explains. Mr. Edmaiston advises young people to do their research on what each branch has to offer in regard to jobs. “Always consider how it translates to the civilian world to where you can continue the career with or without the military. It’s all about options in my opinion,” he advises. After his service, Mr. Edmaiston went on to co-found a non-profit organization called The Warrior’s Keep, a program designed to educate and assist veterans with difficulties reconnecting socially while also helping them achieve inner peace and healing. The organization uses outdoor therapy through their Outdoor Adventure Therapy for Heroes (OATH) program that allows veterans the opportunity to process and reflect on their experiences in a positive and supportive way. Mr. Edmaiston stepped away from the non-profit earlier this year and is searching for his next endeavor. Mr. Edmaiston also had the opportunity to be one of eight Purple Heart recipients to participate in a docuseries on Veteran TV that allowed them to tell stories and share how humor helped them get through their injuries. He says, “The main goal is suicide prevention and awareness for both Veteran TV and The Warrior’s Keep along with the rest of the veteran nonprofits in the country. They all do great work and the more the better.” In his free time Mr. Edmaiston enjoys playing golf, hiking and camping and talking to his dog like she’s a person.
Sergeant First Class Casey McEuinUnited States Army Purple Heart 2011
A native of Southern California, Mr. Casey McEuin grew up with a love of the sand and the ocean as all he wanted to do throughout his childhood was be outdoors, go to the beach and invest his time in martial arts. Mr. McEuin chose to serve in the Army because he’d always wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself. He recalls, “I would always see on the news something that was going on in the world and see the soldiers that were always on the front lines, and I was in awe of their bravery. I wanted a piece of that; I wanted to belong to an organization that was family through and through.” He served in the Army for over 17 years and was medically separated after being injured in Afghanistan in 2011. During his service he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of the circumstance that led to his earning the Purple Heart, Mr. McEuin explains, “Our base came under attack in October of 2011. During the attack there was a great deal of discombobulation and chaos. While trying to render aid to a wounded service member and bringing them to safety in the bunker, I was injured in the process.” Receiving the Purple Heart is a momentous and incredible honor, and when asked what it was like to learn that he earned the award, Mr. McEuin explains, “At first those who receive the Purple Heart usually joke about it and say that they wish they would have zigged when they should have zagged, but when you are inducted into a group of men and women who have bestowed the same honor since 1782, you realize that you are part of a distinguished group. It is definitely a tremendous honor.”
Mr. McEuin accredits the day he received his Purple Heart with being his most memorable experience of his service. He recalls, too, moments of joy during deployment. Of those memorable moments and experiences he says, “Aside from receiving the Purple Heart, the one moment that always sticks out in my mind is while we were in Afghanistan in 2011, I created a fitness competition for the soldiers on our base, but word got out and we had over 450 soldiers sign up from bases all over Afghanistan. We had service members from seven different countries to include the Afghan National Army. It was the first time where for one day there were no attacks or anything, only the joy of competition.”
Mr. McEuin says his favorite part of his service was the people. He explains, “If you ask any veteran what they miss the most, it will always be the people. I learned what a true leader should look like. That just as the people are the favorite part of the service, it is also the people that you must care for and take care of. Aside from accomplishing the mission, taking care of your soldiers was the number one responsibility!” Mr. McEuin believes that choosing to serve in the Army was by far the best experience and best choice that he has ever made. “It shaped who I am today. I would not be who I am today without the skills, life lessons and leadership that I learned as a member of the Army,” he admits.
To young people looking to serve in the military, like the other recipients, Mr. McEuin says to research. “Know that you are joining the greatest military in the world, and that we are a country that is always in the spotlight. Be proud of your decision, work hard, take advantage of everything that you will learn and experience in your time. Remember that the people you meet while in the service will be your new family for the rest of your life. Enjoy it!” Of his current life, Mr. McEuin says he could not be more blessed by the Lord. “Being injured in Afghanistan led me to where I am today. After my time in the service, I ran a nonprofit organization that was dedicated to helping veterans get back to work. Through that nonprofit, I met my wife and together we have blended our family and created a tribe which we call our Party of Six. I truly believe that it was God’s plan all along and He orchestrated every event to bring us together. Today, I am an area manager working for the greatest company in the world, Amazon. While working for the world’s most customer centric company, I also lead the Warriors Affinity Group that focuses on veterans who work for the company.”
Lance Corporal Jerry SalernoUnited States Marine Corps Purple Heart 1969
Mr. Salerno was one of six children raised in Philadelphia with his father, who was a retired Army Lieutenant Corporal that served in World War II and spent 30 years in the Army including his reserve time. In 1968, Mr. Salerno was about to be drafted but decided to join the Marine Corps along with another friend as part of The Buddy Plan that only required a two-year enlistment. He looks back, “Many of my friends I grew up with were already returning from Vietnam or currently serving in the United States. Many did not make it back, and unfortunately, the numbers continued to grow. After basic and advanced training, it wasn’t long before I found myself in Vietnam. I arrived February 14, 1969, Valentine’s Day. I was assigned to Charlie Company 3plt 1/1. It wasn’t long before I worked my way up to team leader then squad leader of two machine gun teams.” In Vietnam, Mr. Salerno spent 90 percent of his time in the bush all around Da Nang, Vietnam and served in several operations. Of the circumstance that led to his earning the Purple Heart he explains, “On September 25, 1969 in Quang Nam Providence, my unit got ambushed at night, and I was seriously wounded and taken by medivac to a U.S. Naval Hospital in Da Nang. I was a lucky one; I made it. I spent a few months in and out of three different Naval Hospitals before being discharged from Philadelphia Naval Hospital as well as the Marine Corps.”
Mr. Salerno says that if it weren’t for his mother, he’s not sure that he ever would have actually received the Purple Heart he earned. He explains, “After all the time recovering in the over-crowded hospitals during my return, I, like many others, fell through the cracks (so to speak) and was never presented my Purple Heart while on active duty. It was on my discharge papers, but that was it. My mother pursued the matter and got a congressman friend involved to find out what happened to my Purple Heart. After a few months as a civilian I received a letter instructing me to go to a marine reserve unit to pick it up, and that’s what I did! Some stateside sergeant reached in a desk drawer and threw it to me in a box. I caught it and asked him if that was it. His reply was, “What did you expect? A brass band?” I can tell you it did not go well with my mother when she asked if they had a ceremony. She again contacted the congressman friend. I still have the response letters to my mother from the Department of Congress as well as the Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps apologizing.”
Mr. Salerno looks back on his service and concludes that it was quite an experience for a twenty-year-old, but one that he will never forget. “I am still friends with a few of the guys I served with who were also lucky enough to get through their 13-month tours. We are close and care for one another. You’re never as close to people in life as the ones you spent time within combat. It’s been 51 years since being wounded yet it’s crystal clear in my mind.” Mr. Salerno says he has moved on in life and has been married for 49 years. He chose to move to Frisco in 2009 to be closer to his only son and his family who live in Dallas.
Lieutenant Colonel Boots BagbyUnited States Army Three Purple Hearts 1968 (2), 1970
A native of Grand Junction, Colo., and son of an Army Ranger that served in World War II, Mr. Bagby was a natural athlete who ultimately earned scholarships to play baseball and football at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Though military service ran in his family, his attendance at OU led to his serving in the Army. He explains, “When I went, OU was a land-grant school so you had to take two years of basic ROTC and the football office had all of us pre-enrolled in the program. The first third of the group went to the Army, middle third went to the Air Force and last third went to Navy and Marine Corps; “Bagby” is in the first third of the alphabet so I went into the Army ROTC, which was fine with me. Then Vietnam got going, and I knew I was going to have to go. I wasn’t going to try and fight it, so I went Advanced ROTC and got commissioned as a second lieutenant.” During his service, Mr. Bagby earned three Purple Hearts while serving in Vietnam. Looking back on the events that led to his injuries he recalls, “The first two Purple Hearts were as a result of grenades in 1968. I was out checking on my men during some combat operations in a defensive perimeter and a couple of grenades were thrown, two different times, and I caught shrapnel and was taken out by medivac to a battalion aid station where I spent a couple of days there and went back. The last time, in 1970, was a rocket propelled grenade that hit my armored personnel carrier and shrapnel kind of messed me up on that one.”
Mr. Bagby believes that his best memories of his service aren’t necessarily moments, but the people with which he had the honor of serving. “Especially the troops that were under me, fellow officers and even senior officers. I found in the military that what makes the military what it is are the people. I think most would agree. Their attitudes, their patriotism, their dedication … it’s the camaraderie of the servicemembers themselves and even their spouses. The families are so important and so meaningful to the experience of being in the military.” When asked the biggest lesson he learned during his service, Mr. Bagby answered immediately and finitely, “teamwork.” Of his advice for young people looking into serving in the military, he, too, agrees with the other recipients that research is paramount. “People need to think about it and do some research on this country. The one thing is that patriotism is always defined a little bit differently from generation to generation, and I think young people need to think about what this country means to them. Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth defending in some way? I encourage them to ask themselves those questions as I’ve seen some get on active duty and they get in trouble because they really haven’t thought it through. It’s a great way to serve your country, do things that you think are important and learn something you can take away with you into a career. It’s OK to want to seek out the military for a specialty and education that can contribute to the growth and welfare of a person and their family after they leave active duty.”
In his current life Mr. Bagby enjoys trips in his recreational vehicle that allow him to see the country. “I believe that God created our country as a wedge into the future to do things, like contribute positively in wars like WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc., and I like to go out and see this country and what He has done. People can take photos and paint pictures of His creations, but nothing comes close to actually seeing what He created in this country,” he says. Mr. Bagby enjoys spending time with his two children and their families and enjoys helping veterans as an active member of the American Legion Peter J Courcy Post 178, located in Frisco.
Corporal Jacob SchickUnited States Marine Corps Purple Heart 2004
Mr. Schick was born in Shreveport, La., and moved to Coppell when he was 12, where he went onto play football at Coppell High and ultimately joined the Marine Corps in May of 2001. Corporal (CPL) Schick earned his Purple Heart during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Of the events that led to earning the Purple Heart, Mr. Schick explains, “On September 20, 2004, the vehicle I was driving in Dulab, Iraq drove over a triple-stacked tank mine that detonated below me. I was thrown 30 feet through the top of the humvee and landed on my head. I never lost consciousness or went into shock, and it took the Blackhawk 42 minutes to get to me. Once I arrived back on US soil, I spent 18 months in the hospital and had more than 50 operations and 23 blood transfusions. I was medically retired in 2007.”
Mr. Schick chose to serve in the Marine Corps as a result of a family lineage of service. His grandfather and uncle served, and Mr. Schick knew from the time he was eight years old that he wanted to be a United States Marine. He looks back on his experience of service with pride. Mr. Schick explains, “I joined the USMC in May 2001 and shortly thereafter was in boot camp because of 9/11/2001. The thing I think that separates the United States Marine Corps apart is that we adhere to tradition more than other branches. I don’t regret a day of my military service and I would do it all again tomorrow, it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of. I could spend a lifetime trying to repay this country what it’s given me, and I know it’s not a possibility, but I will die trying.” Mr. Schick’s most memorable experience of his service came when First Sargent Green visited him in the hospital where he says, “We linked hands and had one of the most profound conversations I’ve ever had.”
His favorite part of his service was the camaraderie that he had and still has with his fellow Marines. The biggest takeaway Mr. Schick has from his service is the understanding that your mind will quit long before your body does. He advises young people considering serving in the military to do their research. Mr. Schick says, “Do your research on the different branches and history and make an educated decision. Every job in the United States military is equally important.” Mr. Schick now serves as the CEO of 22KILL, a non-profit organization that supports military and first responders and their families in need and provides tools for mental health. “I also travel the country doing speaking engagements telling my story and encouraging individuals within corporations and sports teams to live well,” Mr. Schick explains. Looking back on being awarded the Purple Heart he says, “I felt undeserving because I just got hurt doing my job. I still feel that way.”
To all of America’s veterans and Purple Heart recipients, we thank you for your service and God bless. We honor you and those who have received Purple Hearts, right here in Frisco:
United States Army
Private James F. Sparkman, WWI – Killed in Action (KIA) February 5, 1918
Private Elmer Eslick Parks, WWI – Wounded in Action, 1918 (exact date unknown)
Corporal Franklin Harvey Chandler, Sr., WWI – Wounded in Action, 1918 (exact date unknown)
Private First-Class Grover Ellis Turner, WWI – Wounded in Action (exact date unknown)
Private First-Class Alfred Frank Smith, WWI – Wounded in Action November 10, 1918
Private Cecil Cleveland Waldrum, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) February 16, 1944
Private Forrest Truman Gunstream, WWII – Wounded in Action June 6, 1944
Private Lee Harold Derryberry, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) November 29, 1944
Private First-Class Sidney Gordon Duncan, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) April 28, 1945
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Norman Duncan, WWII – Wounded in Action August 5, 1945
Corporal Kenneth Jack Hill, Korea – Killed in Action (KIA) December 23, 1950
Corporal Robert Ray Brown, Vietnam – Killed in Action (KIA) October 1, 1967
Specialist Four Terry Mann Stark, Vietnam – Wounded in Action 1966 (exact date unknown)
Specialist Four Harold David Thomas, Vietnam–Wounded in Action 1968 (exact date unknown)
Sergeant Michael Luke Boatright, Iraq – Killed in Action (KIA) December 4, 2004
Corporal Peter John Courcy, Afghanistan – Killed in Action (KIA) February 10, 2009
Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, Afghanistan – Wounded in Action April 10, 2012
United States Navy
Seaman Richard Lloyd Bolton, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) August 9, 1942
Hospital Corpsman Second Class Michael Franklin Wills, Vietnam – Wounded in Action (exact date unknown)
Captain Carroll Robert Beeler, Vietnam – Wounded in Action May 24, 1972
United States Air Force
Technical Sergeant Mabron Paul Johnson, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) June 10, 1944
United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Oren Ralph Hill, WWII – Killed in Action (KIA) July 21, 1944