SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Aug. 7 is National Purple Heart Day where the nation will pause to remember the sacrifices made by our nation’s military. A Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy or members of the armed forces who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.
The Purple Heart is the oldest military award dating back to George Washington’s era when he created the Badge of Military Merit in the form of a cloth purple heart. In 1932, the Purple Heart award received its modern-day look and name by Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
In recent years, many Utahns have bravely fought for our country and received the honor of a Purple Heart. So, let’s take a look at some of our own brave men and women who are recipients of the Purple Heart in Utah.
Douglas Evans: Evans is a war veteran of 50 years and received his Purple Heart just last month after a paperwork issue prevented him from receiving the award until now. Congressman Ben McAdams presented Evans with the Purple Heart.
Cody J. Towse: Towse passed away in May of 2013 after sustaining injuries from an explosion while he was deployed in Afghanistan. Gov. Herbert praised the Elk Ridge native as it was reported that Towse was running to treat an injured soldier when he was killed. After his death, he was decorated with a Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and a Medal of Honor.
Brian Johnston: In 2004, Hooper resident, Brian Johnston was deployed to Iraq. It was his first deployment when his vehicle was hit by an IED. He lost his right arm and right leg in the accident and soon after he returned home, Johnston received the honor of a Purple Heart.
Brooke Fox: The Provo police officer was awarded a Purple Heart for her hard work in taking down a suspect in an arrest. Police say that Fox was in a physical confrontation with a suspect when they kicked her in the shoulder which resulted in her having to have surgery and months of rehab.
Brent Taylor: Army Major Brent Taylor lost his life at 39-years-old while fighting for our country in Afghanistan. The fallen North Ogden Mayor was awarded a Purple Heart Medal and a Bronze Star Medal for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
John Angell: Retired Marine Corporal John Angell, now a popular math teacher at Cyprus High School, received a Purple Heart three years ago during half-time of the school’s football game. After Angell was wounded in combat, he came home with a traumatic brain injury and was medically discharged from the Marines but has found a new purpose in life as a beloved school teacher.
Scott Shupe: Senator Mike Lee awarded Vietnam veteran Scott Shupe of Midway the Purple Heart Award in 2018. Sen. Lee and his staff worked closely with the army liaison office to ensure that Shupe received the well-deserved honor.
Andrew Merkey: Retired Staff Sergeant Andrew Merkey was wounded twice and fought bravely in the Battle of Okinawa as he served in the Pacific Theater. After the war, his records were lost but in 2015, Senator Orin Hatch was finally able to award Merkey with the Purple Heart.