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Black Vet Awarded Purple Heart at Age 99

99-year-old Osceola "Ozzie" Fletcher finally received his Purple Heart. It was awarded in a ceremony at the Fort Hamilton Army base in June of 2021 for wounds he suffered in the Battle of Normandy in 1944. Army officials said that Fletcher was “overlooked” for the medal previously because of racial inequalities. Fletcher said that he was “exhilarated,” when he received the award.

The allied invasion of Normandy, France, also known as D-Day, began on June 6, 1944 and lasted until August. The operation led to the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe, and marked the beginning of the end of the European theater in World War II.

According to The New York Post, Fletcher was a 22-year-old private with the 254th Port Battalion during the military operation. He was working as a crane operator when he was hit by a German missile that left him with leg injuries and a head gash, causing a permanent scar.

Gen. James McConville said during the ceremony, “He has spent his entire life giving to those around him whether they were brothers in arms, families, or his community. Well, today it’s Ozzie’s turn to receive.”

The Army conducted a fact-finding mission regarding Fletcher’s overlooked medal and found that he deserved the award after his daughter, Jacqueline Streets, contacted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Streets said,

My father has a gash in his head that we can still see. And obviously he was doing the job of an American soldier. I do believe he was overlooked. We’re finally looking at all of our soldiers in the same way, America is trying to shift its thinking about culture and about race and I appreciate that. I think we’re acknowledging things that happened in the past and trying to correct them moving forward.

Possible Preaching Angle:

1) Race; Race Relations – Every person who serves their country deserves to be honored, regardless of race or ethnicity (Acts 10:34-35, Rom. 10:12); 2) Reward; Service, reward for - God will never overlook any Christian for the service they have offered to him (Heb. 6:10).

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