Osceola Fletcher, a black WWII veteran who was denied the Purple Heart due to racial inequalities, received the medal at 99.
His service in the Battle of Normandy was not honored for over eight decades. Former Army Private Osceola “Ozzie” Fletcher was wounded in a German attack while delivering supplies to Allied troops following D-Day. A soldier driving the vehicle was killed, and Fletcher was left with a gash on his head. Despite his service and wound, Fletcher was not awarded the Purple Heart because of racial inequalities at the time.
His story is similar to many minority soldiers who fought in World War II. The number of service members who deserve the award but remain unrecognized is unknown. Upon his ceremony, Fletcher recalled WWII, “… it seems that maybe many officers got Purple Hearts because they were White. But I don’t know about any other unwhite soldiers, you might say, getting honored in any way. … After fighting and after working, which is what mainly we were doing,” Fletcher said, “it’s about time.”
The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President to members of the military who were killed or wounded in service following April 5, 1917. Since its inception, 430,000 Purple Heart accolades have been awarded.
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: TRENDSMAP
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