Coast Guard World War II veteran receives Purple Heart

8th Coast Guard District NewsMINNETONKA, Minn. — The Coast Guard awarded the Purple Heart to a World War II veteran during an official ceremony at the Minnetonka Assisted Living center, Friday.

Gale L. Fuller received the Purple Heart from Cmdr. Jeffrey Morgan, chief of prevention for Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River, for his injuries sustained during an attack by a German submarine in 1944.

While serving aboard the USS Leopold on March 9, 1944, Fuller survived a torpedo, freezing waters and other harsh elements more than 100 miles from land before being rescued by the USS Joyce.

The Leopold was one of 10 Destroyer Escorts manned entirely by Coast Guardsmen performing maritime security missions across the Atlantic working to guarantee safe delivery of men and material to England, which was a critical element to the success of the D-Day invasion for the Allies.

“As an American, and as a commissioned officer in the U.S. military, I was honored to preside over the Purple Heart ceremony of Seaman 1st Class Fuller. This ceremony, nearly 70 years in the waiting, not only rightfully recognized the sacrifices of this great Coast Guardsman, but was in line with the commandant’s second and third guiding principles: Honoring our Profession and Respecting our Shipmates,” said Morgan. “Our command philosophy is Take Care, Prepare and Execute the Mission, and in this instance, we ensured that a shipmate was taken care of and recognized by a grateful nation.”

The 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 and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.

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