WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Military, News

Korean War Veteran Receives Purple Heart After 50 Years

When 16 year old Rufus Elmore Pitts enlisted in the army for a three year stint in 1947, little did he know the United States would be at war with North Korea by 1949.

Pitts' unit wound-up on the front lines as part of an operation called "Task Force Smith."

Task force smith held out for over 8 hours with around 50% losses before pulling back. That was this young man's initial introduction into combat.

Pitts earned five major battle stars for his service before being discharged from the army in 1951 with a major head injury.

But for some reason, Pitts never received his Purple Heart. That is until today.

Now 77, Pitts was presented with his Purple Heart Wednesday, Veteran's Day, at Blountstown High School.

The Purple Heart is presented to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in combat for the U.S.

Pitts, who still has a hard time discussing his war experience, says he was overwhelmed by the honor and recognition.

“Well, I feel pretty good,” said Pitts, “but even if I never got one I still would've felt good because I still love my country."

Army reserve soldier Danny Hassig was one of the two soldiers who presented Pitts with the medal.

"It's probably one of the biggest honors I've ever had,” said Hassig.

Hassig says there's a unique bond all military members share with one another.

"The thing that always goes across with soldiers or sailors or airmen or marines is once you've served, it's all the same, it's just like talking to a fellow brother in arms."

Pitts was just happy so many young people got the chance to witness this event, especially on veteran's day.

"These young children right here is the future of America,” said Pitts. “They're our defenders, will be our defenders and I'm proud of them.”
Pitts explained the delay in receiving his purple heart, saying some of the paperwork had been lost during the war.


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