How many Purple Heart recipients are there in our area? It seems to me I've read more in the paper about those wounded in the Vietnam War than any others, but it may be they are the ones more willing to talk about their experience now that the years have helped heal the wounds.

How many Purple Heart recipients are there in our area? It seems to me I've read more in the paper about those wounded in the Vietnam War than any others, but it may be they are the ones more willing to talk about their experience now that the years have helped heal the wounds.

— Mary S., Medford

That's a good question, one that we took all the way to the top, Mary.

Unfortunately, not even Jim Klug, the state commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, has been able to find out exactly how many local veterans out there were wounded in action.

"Sadly, that's one of the best kept military secrets," he said of the number of Purple Heart recipients. "There are really no public records that we can look at."

However, the Ashland resident reports there are at least 37 local veterans who were wounded while serving their country. That's how many are members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Rogue Valley Chapter No. 147, which he commanded before taking the state post.

"We know there are a lot more out there — every time we reach out we find more," said Klug, an Army enlisted man wounded by a mortar round on Thanksgiving Day 1967 on Hill 875 in what was then South Vietnam.

He encourages any veteran of any war with a Purple Heart medal citation on his or her DD214 discharge paper to contact him or local chapter officials.

His telephone number is 778-3480, while Chapter 147 commander Larry Rupp can be reached at 779-8328 and chapter adjutant John Waldrop at 774-4328. Like Klug, both Rupp and Waldrop were wounded in the Vietnam War.

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