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Purple Heart Day special for one central New York veteran

Ellen Abbott/WRVO
Dan Hunnicutt received his Purple Heart medal he earned for being wounded in the Vietnam War at an Onondaga County Legislature meeting this week.

Today is Purple Heart Day -- the annual, nationwide commemoration of the thousands of American soldiers either killed or wounded while serving in the military who have received the medal. And it is an extra special day for one central New Yorker.

Dan Hunnicutt is an acting chaplain in Oswego County who runs a ministry with his family meant to help veterans. He often wears his medals when he goes to meet troubled vets as a kind of conversation starter. He now has a new one to share.

Hunnicutt was initially awarded a Purple Heart after he was shot in the back of the neck during a tour in Vietnam. But he lost the medal in Portland, Oregon when he returned to the states. A contractor recently found a medal while renovating a house there, and the Veterans Affairs office in Portland did some sleuthing, and discovered it belonged to Hunnicutt. He says the medal means a lot to him.

“It’s really giving your all. You know, you could die. You’re really willing to give your life,” he said.

Hunnicutt received the medal from officials at an Onondaga County Legislature meeting this week, when lawmakers adopted a resolution designating the county as a “Purple Heart County.”

 “I’m an old worn out vet, and this Purple Heart here and the condition it’s in is kind of wore out too. But it still stands for what it stands for,” said Hunnicutt after the ceremony.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.