Makes a great gift for Vietnam Veterans

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okay
fall in troops coming to you live from
inside the bunker
from the vietnam veterans live show
this is ronnie embrace i served with
101st airborne division
in vietnam 19 december 67 tonight
this is december 68.
today’s guest is sergeant richie drago
from a company first battalion
seventh cavalry of the first air calvary
division he served in vietnam
he’s also the commander of the military
order of the purple heart chapter 1782
at washington headquarters in newburgh
new york
which was the first chapter of the
purple heart
military order of the purple heart
so don’t forget to subscribe to our
facebook page follow never forgotten
there’s 83 000 members there you’ll most
likely
see somebody or hear about things that
you
ran into while you served there and
hopefully you hook up with a friend or
two
for never forgotten the vietnam veterans
memorial book
covers one memorial in each state has a
biography on it
tells you how the land was acquired how
they got the funds to
erect the memorial who the landscape
architect
and the new and what happened on
dedication day
and then it lists all the guys
and a few women who did not come home
alphabetically and state by state
as well as the territories and the wall
in washington dc
you can learn about that at fault
neverforgotten.com
and we also have the vietnam veterans
photo club page
on facebook very popular page
about 83 000 members and
the guys have been hooking up on that as
well okay
so i think we should uh
make sure take a little break here make
sure that richie’s
all hooked up ready to go and we’ll be
back
in a little while thank you the vietnam
war
a vicious battle in a foreign land where
all gave some
and some gave all americans have built
great monuments to show the appreciation
that many vietnam veterans never
received at the time of battle
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in the usa
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by 9 inch 240 page photo and information
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veteran in your life
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these landmarks behold
we interviewed the people behind the
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okay back with sergeant richie drago
from the military order of the purple
heart
chapter 1782 washington headquarters in
newburgh new york
okay richie uh tell us when you first
got uh
when you hooked up with the first cav
and your experiences from there
well first of all thanks for having me
on the show ronnie i got to
uh vietnam 1969 was assigned to
a company first battalion seventh
cavalry uh of course i was the new guy
but uh we were in a couple of fire
fights right away so i guess i got my
uh my baptism of fire right there you go
all right now national let’s get into
the the crux of the organization you run
here which is fabulous
uh national purple heart day just passed
what what went on there
in the uh historic hudson valley well in
the hudson valley
we had a uh honor ceremony
for uh all the purple heart recipients
and we had it at washington’s
headquarters in newburgh
typically we have it at the national
purple heart hall of honor
but they’re undergoing a 17 million
dollar
uh re-do which was uh yeah it was uh
granted by uh governor cuomo and uh the
late senator larkin
so being that the whole site is closed
we
we migrated over to washington’s
headquarters in newburgh
and for those of you who don’t know
washington’s headquarters
is the precursor area for the current
day purple heart
okay as commander of your uh military
order of the purple heart chapter 1782
tell us some of the
reasons why you got involved and what do
you do
in that capacity well i joined uh in
2008
um i had uh i had a bunch of guys in my
reunions
tell me you know you should you should
get in if you have the purple heart you
should get into the military or the
purple heart
so uh after i came back from my reunion
i looked up
the local chapter it happens to be 1782
in newberg new york and obviously they
gave it the
1782 number because in 1782
that’s when washington created the badge
of military merit which is the
forerunner of the purple heart
i got in and i found the organization
was basically composed of world war ii
korea and vietnam veterans and
one or two uh iraq
guys because that war was you know just
recent
and um so we’re in we’re in the business
of of helping veterans just like all the
other
uh just like all the other organizations
are
you don’t have to have a purple heart
we’ll help anybody we we’re geared
towards purple heart recipients
obviously
um and you know basically we try and
help
as much as we can great and also uh
how many when is this a new uh
construction gonna be uh
actually i drove by there a couple weeks
ago looking for the uh
the picture on the outside and it’s
hush um they were not affected by covert
19
except for a week they deemed commercial
and not a residential construction so at
that point
they were allowed to continue and
they’re going to finish on time they
tell me it will be open in november
oh that’s wonderful good for that great
okay also
here we have some uh a real vietnam
veteran supporter
coming into town uh gary sinise tell us
a little bit about that
well the purple heart horror of honor is
run by
new york state uh even though we call it
national purple heart all of honor it’s
national because there is no other place
in the nation where you can register
purple heart recipients
so you cannot donate to the hall of
honor if you do
it goes into new york state’s general
fund which is not
um where you want the money to go so we
created
the national purple heart hall of honor
incorporated
which is a 501c3 fundraising arm for the
whole
the name was a little too close so
now they’ve changed it as a dba to the
national purple heart honor mission
right one of the things that the honor
mission does
is we bring one purple heart recipient
and
a caregiver from every state in the
union to see the hall of honor
uh that’s done through donations
to the purple heart honor mission it’s
done through
corporate donations such as shoprite and
we get a big hand from the honor flight
guys because they have all the
connections for the airlines
so once a year we do that we also have
something
called the genesis medal award dinner
genesis is the group of people who
started
the national purple heart hall of honor
it was started by private funds
there are four gentlemen that’s why they
call it the genesis group
two of those gentlemen have subsequently
passed away joe farina who was a world
war ii
radio operator with macarthur and
senator william larkin who was a colonel
in world war ii and korea
and several others so we decided to
create the genesis medal and award it to
one purple heart recipient and one
non-purple heart recipient
past recipients have been tammy
duckworth
um people who have who have made a real
contribution to
to the veterans uh cause
we always try to get one purple heart
non-purple heart recipient
who’s fairly known to everybody and
we tried to get gary niece but he was
unavailable for 21 but he promised he
would be available for
the 2022 award dinner so we’ve got him
uh as far as i know we’ve got him locked
in for the
2022 dinner hopefully the 2021 dinner
will get pulled off as
you know obviously we don’t know what
covert yet um
but that’s one of the things that the
purple heart honor mission does besides
raising funds for the world of honor
let me cut in here a minute richie
that’s a wonderful event too because i
went i went there
and it’s uh my gosh it’s like a
homecoming when you go there
and you know people from all over the
country
all over the world hey everybody wants
it
what it’s the hottest ticket in town
everybody wants it
yeah yeah yeah i’ll tell you it’s that’s
too bad that
it wasn’t put on this year as well now
uh the military order the purple heart
could only be joined if you’re
combat wounded yes or no that’s correct
um
primarily you have to be combat wounded
your family members can be can join as
associate members
um so if you have a uh a son
or a daughter or a husband who was
wounded then the wife
and and the children can all be
associate members of the military order
of the purple heart
got you okay um and and blue
combat wounded these days they’ve
changed
the designation uh because of the ieds
that our
current service people are getting
involved with um
if you have a traumatic brain injury
where there is no actual
blood you can still get a purple heart
oh that’s cool yeah
yeah well nothing for ptsd still though
right
uh no nothing for ptsd yet okay gotcha
unfortunately
yep uh tell us about this uh
purple heart coin that is pending
legislation well
uh congress allows two coins to be
minted every year and they could be any
variety of coin and it can be any type
of object that you want to honor
so we got our congressman sean patrick
maloney
to push a purple heart coin it is coin
is going to be honoring the purple heart
national purple heart hall of honor it
will be minted at west point
the cost of the coin will be recouped
from the first sales
of the coin once they pay back west
point
the cost of the of the dye and the mint
then every other set of coins that sold
that money will go to the fundraising
side of the purple heart hall of honor
so it’s a great
great deal um there’s going to be three
coins uh
a gold silver and platinum um and my
understanding is
that there will be you can buy them
individually or
proof sets we have all
everybody in on on the congress side
has signed up we have 50
senators we need i think 15 more
it’s awfully hard with what’s going on
with the covenant and the election
but uh we think we’re going to make it
this year and then the coin will be
submitted for
selection and everybody’s pretty sure
that it’ll get selected
uh for 2021 or
2022 depending on how many coins are
ahead of it
uh and it will be minted right out of
the west appointment
now am i to understand this is a real
coin you could spend
like a while with george washington’s
picture on one end and the backside
purple heart um i’m not sure design yet
i haven’t seen the design yet
right i haven’t been privy to the design
but i know that
uh we were down in in in
congress last year uh walking the halls
and talking to the congress people
um and everybody basically wanted to
sign on because it’s it you know you
attach yourself to
purple art recipients there’s no
downside really yeah exactly
right okay and it’s still uh so tell us
about your time in vietnam richie
um you know i was uh i was a grunt like
everybody else
as i moved up through the squad i became
a m-60 gunner
and you know that was uh one of the
deals when i was
when i was wounded i was firing the gun
um i was actually on a firebase firebase
jerry
uh and they had gotten g2 had gotten
some intelligence that an nba
battalion or something was supposed to
hit the lz with 50 plus guys and
they had already chopped us out the only
guys that were left on the lz was the
support staff in the artillery
um and unfortunately i guess we were the
closest guys
so they brought us back and dropped that
at midnight that night uh they started
walking mortars in and they tried to
come through the wire it was uh
it was an interesting uh engagement and
and i got hit with shrapnel from the
mortar and the funny part was i didn’t
even
know i was wounded uh because i was too
busy firing the m60
and i i i felt my boot was all wet and i
didn’t know what the hell was going on
until i realized oh crap
that was that blast in the heat i felt
from the mortar
not good there you go right okay then
where’d you go to the hospital anyway
out of country or that was very
uh so they pulled me back to the aid
station and they realized they could
that they couldn’t do anything for me
you know there uh so two o’clock in the
morning
is still in the middle of the battle the
uh
you know the medevacs came in uh they
threw me on the medevac
took me back out i went to uh
95th evac and then to osaka japan where
they actually
had to do operations on me then they
flew me back into dover delaware
and then to saint albans uh hospital up
in queens new york and
that’s where i was recuperated
and then back into the army again but i
was in the states
so
at that point uh i had served the rest
the rest of my time out in
fort riley kansas and i got out in 1971
so i was in from 69 to 71.
let me tell you guys a little about
how the purple heart was created
1782 general washington wanted to reward
the common soldier
uh all the officers had all the rewards
but
he didn’t have any money from congress
because
congress had frozen uh
the funds so he created a
purple heart badge a cloth badge with
the word merit sewn into it
and that allowed the common soldier to
pass through the centuries
without being challenged just like the
officers would and
at that point it was awarded to three
sergeants from
connecticut the only known one
left that you can see is in the national
purple heart hall of honor
the other two badges they’re not sure
where they went
the three barges were awarded at
washington’s headquarters in newburgh
after the revolutionary war the badge
fell into disuse
and then for world war one if you got
wounded they gave you a wound chevron
that you sewed onto the
sleeve of your uniform in 1932
general douglas macarthur wanted to
have a medal to honor combat wounded
soldiers
so he took the badge of military merit
he went to the army heraldry department
and they designed the modern day purple
heart
at first it was only for the army but
then it was expanded to all the services
and those gentlemen in world war one who
had wound chevrons
were able to turn it in for an
actual uh purple hot metal so that’s the
that’s a little bit of the history of
the metal
on purple heart day we had a nice
ceremony at washington’s headquarters
um everybody who
who was there uh showed great reverence
um
we like to do this every year we’ve done
it at the whole of honor before as i
said you couldn’t do it this year
because it’s under construction
uh what else can i tell you guys um
if you would like to join the military
order of the purple heart
all you have to do is go to wwe
you can find your local chapter you have
to join through the chapter
do the contact for the chapter which is
usually a commander or an adjutant
you get in touch with them and they’ll
be able to hook you up with
an application so that’s how you join
the military over the purple heart
we have chapters or across the country
we even have some you know we have them
in alaska
hawaii guam all of our possessions uh
puerto rico
the caribbean so we’re we’re all over
the place
if any of you guys ever get to new york
uh please look me up um i’d be happy to
take you to the
hall of honor i’d be happy to take you
to washington’s headquarters
they do uh they do a great tour there
you can see uh the museum which has 1300
artifacts
and the actual museum has locks of
washington’s hair
uh a bunch of his stuff and then you can
actually take a tour of the hasbro
house which is the house he stayed in
for the 18 months
that he was in newberg you can walk
through the house which is the original
house
and you can go into his office
and you can see the desk
and the place where he actually created
uh the badge of military merit
some things that the purple heart does
we get veterans on shows like this um
we’ve been on if you guys listen to
cirrus xm
we’ve been on patriot 125
we gave away a purple heart
dodge challenger through nexon tire
the gentleman who got that was from
south carolina
and it was a it was a pretty nice car it
was a
2018 purple challenger
with custom uh purple heart badges
it had the uh 5.2 hemi
485 horsepower it was a and
it had been gone through by nixon tire
so it had some custom accessories
and and a custom exhaust and that was
nice
what else can i tell you guys
we are planning to have the
patriot project uh come through next
year 2021
so what we do is we we uh go to all our
purple heart chapters
across the united states and we ask the
commander
to submit one purple heart recipient who
has not been to see the hall of honor
and um they can bring one other person
with them
uh whether it’s a caregiver or a family
member or whatever
and we fly them
to into the nearest airport the nearest
airport for us is
stewart airport it’s an air national
guard base as well
air force one has been in many times
when the president’s gone to west point
to give a graduation or a commencement
speech so they’re very familiar with
landing military planes as well as it
being a regular
airport it was also at one point
a backup runway for the space shuttle
because the primary runway is
12 000 feet long it’s a nice airport
it’s out of the way of kennedy laguardia
and newark so
and it’s only about an hour from the
city so we do that we fly everybody in
um they stay at the fair hotel in west
point
this is all free no they don’t pay for
anything
um we give them a couple of uh
um tours around the area
we like i said we they see washington’s
half c washington’s headquarters in the
morning
the other half see the hall of honor and
then the afternoon we switch
next year i believe they’re going down
to new york city they have something
else planned which i’m not sure of um
they their meals are all included uh and
then this year what we’re going to do
is merge the genesis metal dinner
in with their state so they’ll all be
here
no no you got me got nothing here
hey richie you okay yep we’re good
matt you hear me richie
richie yeah the uh couple of mortars hit
the generator
oh okay yeah we had a little power
outage
so we’re back in business though let’s
get going here well i
covered a lot of the topics so whatever
i tell you really i hear that you were
back on the show here you did well
about the coming to come and visit the
sites
i mean there’s a lot of history in the
hudson valley there’s a lot of history
in the hudson valley if you’re a rebel
a rebel fanatic um there’s many places
you can see here
in the hudson valley many places uh the
last
the uh norenza cantonment is the last
encampment of the continental army
and that’s where the whore of honor sits
so not only can you see the hall of
honor but
you can see all the other exhibits for
uh the last
uh encampment of washington’s
headquarters uh of washington’s troops
before he dismissed the troops
yeah including even stony point and up
in ticonderoga and saratoga
yeah they’re a little far from here but
yeah what i’m just saying
up the hudson river lake champlain is
wow this is where it took place
yeah it’s like uh and people don’t know
they people live here they don’t even
know that you know
west point’s right around the corner
well west park’s an amazing place to
take a tour
um and and what we do with the
uh purple heart patriot mission is we
give them a tour of west point
but we give them the backstage tour we
take them places where
the normal tours don’t go really
yeah nice it’s like
and all the times that i wanted to go on
a tour when i went to the 101
actually our banquet was cancelled this
year because of cole head
we have a bad stone bank with that uh
the first weekend in december
yep but that’s gone now which is sad you
know everything’s everything’s canceled
yeah so uh and other than that i guess
jeet and
thank you so much for filling in there
no problem
and uh thank you don reeves for the uh
facebook pitch on the bottom there
airborne all the way
and uh so what’s your next uh what’s
going on
what’s the future look like for the the
hall i mean beside being
re i mean it was totally leveled and
going to be rebuilt right yep
it’s going to have it everything that
was on two floors
i believe will be on one floor now so it
is handicap
ada accessible um but
i know they had an elevator in the in
the hall i don’t know if they’re going
to use that now or
everything is going to stay on on one
hall
there’ll be i think more meeting
we’ll rooms at washington’s headquarters
in newburgh and there’s a
if you’ve ever seen that famous picture
of washington in the white house
we have one of those at washington’s
headquarters
same size it’s a life-size full-size
picture
we meet in that room which is the really
the purple heart room
and the hall of honor is going to
is going to i guess mimic um
some of that it’ll have some more
artifacts
that guys can donate stuff
i know that one of our past national
commanders bruce mcginty
we have his huey flight helmet there i
mean there’s a lot of stuff in the hall
of honor
it’s not just uh um medals and stories
so the thing about the whole of honor is
there’s a role of honor and it’s a
database where
if you have a purple heart uh with
proper documentation
the whole of honor will enroll you
they’ll put your picture in
from that time that you were in um
they’ll give you they’ll let you put
your story in and you know
that’s pretty interesting it’s pretty
looking up
and you can look anybody up uh stealth
yes you can
yeah uh it’s a self-guided tour
um i don’t believe they’re going to have
uh people
um taking you on tours per se
uh except if you come with a crowd then
they do have docents that will break up
the crowd up and kind of take you around
and answer questions
but you can spend as much or as little
time as you want there
uh is there to be any refreshments
available
no there’s nothing i don’t think you’re
allowed to bring anything in
um i mean like a little cafe you know
what i mean i don’t know what the new
plans are i don’t i don’t think so
currently there was a gift shop i’m not
sure if they’re planning to
keep that gift shop i know there’s going
to be a big atrium
where uh people can meet the
the hall of honor before there was only
a small entrance
so i know that i have all of these
things under consideration
um i haven’t either is anita and mr
pedrozzi is still going to be involved
uh they’re involved now uh anita padilla
and yeah the director and pete pedrosian
is the historical manager
um pete does a lot of uh reenacting
from civil war all the way up um he
likes world war one stuff
uh when we have um ceremonies
he’ll come out in a world war one uh
uniform or a word
through uniform yeah he’s i’ve seen a
nice guy i met him a few times
they have all that stuff there so
yeah how many how many
i’m not going to say members how many
people are enrolled in the
hall of honor 250
something thousand
1.8 million purple heart recipients in
the united states
the government does not
keep track of purple heart recipients
they only keep trapped track
of the top three medals uh medal of
honor
if you get a cross uh and
uh silver star so the thing with service
cross
moh and in the civil statements that’s
the only three they keep track of
okay that’s it
i guess the va has to cover up the the
purple heart guys right
right what they’re trying to do is to
get the purple heart in
um get the purple heart in that category
now
right but i don’t know if they can
backfill i don’t know
you know uh all those a lot of those
records from our time were lost and then
fire in saint louis
yeah so the only way would be if
somebody has their actual
um order yeah or
um a dd-214 or something that shows you
got the metal
right okay royal boy that was a uh
interesting discussion here we got a
question here i guess but i think you
already answered it what is the purple
heart patriot project
mission so the purple heart patriot
project mission
is something that the purple heart
patriot
uh project has put together
in order to bring one purple heart
recipient and
one caregiver or one family member
from every state in the united states
and our
possessions puerto rico guam wherever
we fly them back to newburgh new york
so they can see the hall of honor
washington’s headquarters
and next year they’re going to integrate
the genesis medal dinner with their trip
normally do that separately but
uh we realized that while we have
50 to 100 purple heart recipients here
we might as well do the dinner while
they’re here
yeah um it seems to me like you’re gonna
have to get a bigger room
uh anthony’s can hold a hundred
some odd thousand people they’re they
joe venera does a great job with that
where with the dinner
anthony okay yeah okay we could do one
of those foldable walls you know get it
out of the way right
he push it yeah you could put two 300
people in there
great good okay all right richie rose
listen we thank you so much for this
i’m quite sure a lot of people got
a boatload of information that uh
i mean i didn’t know i live here and
i’ve been there i’m a member for
15 years or so and uh just the i wish
and how okay how could they join i
already mentioned it okay yep
sorry sorry about the rounds just go to
www.purpleheart.org
uh find a chapter um they’ll tell you
where your local chapter is you have to
join through the chapter and
uh it’s 50 for a life membership it’s
not expensive so
no that’s great yeah it really is i
think uh
coming up in one of your next shows
we’re going to have the ceo of the
purple heart patriot mission
come and expand more on the fundraising
side and what
what the purple heart patriot mission
does russ vernon
is a colonel retired colonel army and uh
he’s got a lot of
information about that patriot mission
and he’ll have more
up-to-date stuff on gary sinise and
whatever
whatever else is going on that’s great
well thank you so much
salute you richie and welcome home
brothers carry on and sorry for the
mortar rounds
no problem see you next week
okay there we go another episode of
veterans live show richie drago
commander of the purple heart
merit military order of 1792
in newberg new york with a fine fine
representation
gentleman servant for so many years over
there and he knows what’s going on
all right so don’t forget to tune in
next week and don’t forget to go on the
fall never forgotten page
and in the fall never forgotten network
and
pick up a copy of our book fall never
forgotten it makes a great gift too for
the vietnam veterans if somebody’s
watching who’s not a vietnam veteran and
they could go from there
so thank you very much and we’ll see you
next week
live from the bunker checking out take
care
god bless and welcome home brothers