Pennsylvania Purple Heart Day seeks to promote greater awareness of medal's significance

 

Wednesday marks Pennsylvania's first ever Purple Heart Day.

Two Vietnam veterans are both recipients of the same medal.

"It's the medal no one wants to get," said Army veteran Bud Dillon of Coplay.

"The only way you're awarded by that, is by the enemy," said Marine veteran Frank Bokan of Lehighton.

The Purple Heart is awarded to veterans injured or killed in action against an enemy.

Bokan earned his near Khe Sanh, Vietnam.

"I was looking one way, he was trying to get through, he stumbled on me and threw a grenade at me, which bounced off my head and went off," Bokan said.

Shrapnel was lodged in his head and arm.

Dillon was injured June 1st 1969 after surviving the Battle of Burger Hill.

"We got ambushed, and we were hit with an rpg, rocket propelled grenade, and I got shrapnel through my mouth and my knee," Dillon said.

More than 90,000 Pennsylvania veterans have qualified for the Purple Heart. But often civilians are clueless as to what it represents.

"They ask me what, is that for?" Bokan said.

Part of the goal of Purple Heart Day is greater awareness of the medal's significance.

Bokan, also commander of Pennsylvania's Military Order of the Purple Heart, hopes it will generate more interaction between civilians and vets.

"Maybe if they see someone with a Purple Heart, thank us for what we did, that's all we're asking for," Bokan said.

Because just a simple thank you goes a long way.

"You know, it really touches my heart, it's really nice," Dillon said.