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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

For Immediate Release

Ft. Campbell, Kentucky - August 1, 2012

A Mysterious American Purple Heart Medal Arrives in London

Mr. Andrew Keasler A retired USMC Gunnery Sergeant working as a Public Affairs Officer in the Defense Attaché Office of U.S. Embassy London, was sorting the mail on 7 July 2012. when he noticed a mysterious plain envelope with no return address,  Inside, with no note of explanation, he found a Purple Heart Medal with the words “Major L. H. Cotton, 0-346404, June 6, 1944, 101st Division, 377 Parachute F.A. Bn.” engraved on the back

After a search of Embassy records for the name produced no results, Mr. Keasler turned to the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) for assistance in locating either LTC Cotton or his family.  Under the auspices of the MOPH Americanism Program, Captain Zachariah Fike, a Vermont National Guardsman and MOPH Member, methodically tracks down the living family members of Purple Heart Recipients whose medals have been lost or stolen.  Fike’s research found that LTC (then MAJ) Louis H. Cotton had been a Field Artillery Officer and Alpha Battery Commander within the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion (PFAB), 101st Airborne Division during WWII.  He went on to become the S-1 (Personnel Officer) and eventually was assigned the position of Battalion Executive Officer just before D-Day.  He was wounded in the leg by enemy fire as he Parachuted that day into Normandy.  He left the front lines to heal and after his  recovery, became the 7th Army G5 (Operations Officer) before leaving the war in 1945.  He retired in October 1963 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

MAJ Louis H. Cotton

Unfortunately, CPT Fike also learned that LTC Cotton had died on 6 September 1985 in Palm Beach, Florida.   Extensive research determined that there are no immediate survivors of his family.  In lieu of returning the Purple Heart to a family member, CPT Fike contacted the BG Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), who quickly agreed to accept and put the medal on permanent display at the Museum.  Ironically, LTC Cotton was born in Louisville, Kentucky.

The public is invited to join CPT Zachariah Fike and other members of the MOPH at 3:00 PM on 7 Aug 2012 (National Purple Heart Day) at the BG Don F. Pratt Memorial Museum, Ft. Campbell, when Daniel S. Peterson, Director of the museum, will accept LTC Louis Cotton’s Purple Heart medal in a special ceremony at the museum.  How this Purple Heart medal ended up in London could forever be a mystery, but at least it will have a new home of honor in the State of his birth.

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) of the U.S.A. Inc.," was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance.  MOPH volunteers through the VAVS program, provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans Homes.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, 352-753-5535
Email: PublicRelations@Purpleheart.org
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