Veteran Posthumously given Purple Heart 72 Years later:

On August 12, 1943 while fighting in The Battle of Sicily, Arkansas WWII veteran Walter Corley of Prattsville, received a severe concussion after a German shell exploded only a few feet from his machine gun position. The blast killed his ammo bearer and sent Corley to the hospital for several weeks.

After Walter Corley died in 1996, his son, Bill Corley began researching his father’s military service, searching for documents that recorded his father’s injury on Sicily.


The family of Walter Corley receives the Purple Heart medal for wounds he received during The Battle of Sicily

After receiving a letter from the US National Archives stating that his father’s wartime records were lost in fire, Bill Corley gave up his research, not knowing how to proceed with his investigation.

That all changed when he read an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette mentioning about the state’s senators and congressmen working together to resolve veteran’s issues.

Bill Corley contacted the office of his U.S. Representative, French Hill whose office had hundreds of pages of war records available through the congressman’s military liaison.

“He did something in four weeks that took me 10 years to try and do,” said Corley of congressman French Hill, who presented the Purple Heart medal to the Corley family.

Receiving the Purple Heart medal brought closure to Bill Corley and his family, which includes four kids, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

“Dad was truly one of the Greatest Generation,” said Corley. “He didn’t want any medals; he didn’t want any recognition; he just wanted to do his job and get home.”

The Battle of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, took place from July 9th – August 17th, 1943. It was a major stepping stone to the Allied planned invasion of the Italian mainland. The Allies suffered nearly 25,000 casualties in the battle including 5837 killed.

Photo via John Moritz

For more reading on the battle of Sicily check out:

The Day of Battle: War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson

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