Purple Heart Medals for Two WWII Heroes Find a Home at the National Museum of the Pacific War

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The National Museum of the Pacific War will take two Purple Hearts without a home into their collection to guarantee they are cared for.

On April 3, 2013, at 4:00 PM, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Department of Texas, Purple Hearts Reunited, Inc., and the Admiral Nimitz Foundation will hold a joint ceremony at the National Museum of the Pacific War, 310 East Austin St., Fredericksburg, Texas, to honor two military heroes who died in WWII and whose Purple Heart medals were subsequently lost or stolen. Their Purple Heart medals are being donated to the museum by Captain Zachariah Fike, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited.

The medal for Fireman 1st Class Howard Donald Seibert was found in a box of Medals owned by Mr. Tom Shedler, possibly a military friend or military collector. Seibert was aboard the USS Tullibee (SS-284), one of the Gato class submarines that were largely responsible for the destruction of the Japanese merchant marine and a large portion of the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II. While on patrol from Pearl Harbor, she stopped at Midway to top off with fuel. After leaving on 14 March 1944, she was never heard from again. Only after the war was it learned that the Tullibee had engaged a Japanese transport ship and fired two torpedoes. One of the torpedoes ran a circular course and sank the Tullibee by herself, killing most of the sailors aboard. It appears that Mr. Seibert had been an Orphan and only his foster mother, with whom he had lived only a short time, was listed at his time of death. There is no other family member known to be living.

The medal for Seaman 1st Class Orville E. Kimball, a Native American from Oso, Snohomish, Washington, was found in the effects of a member of the Washington State Fleet Reserve Association after his death in 2012. It was given to Mrs. Lois Knox, the widow of a WWII Navy Veteran, in hopes that she might be able to locate the original owner. Enlisting the assistance of her grandson, Mr. Jason Linn, they tried unsuccessfully to locate Kimball until Jason read about Purple Hearts Reunited in an MSNBC article and they contacted CPT Zachariah Fike. Fike discovered that Kimball was one of many who had been killed in action together on 12 May 1945 and were later interred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. The exact circumstances of Seaman Kimball’s death are unknown, but in an act of true patriotism, Mr. Linn made his way to Kimball’s gravesite in Hawaii in order to reunite the Purple Heart with Seaman Kimball's grave before donating the medal to Purple Hearts Reunited. Because Kimball never married and had no living descendents or siblings, it was decided that the National Museum of the Pacific War would be a fitting repository to honor Seaman Orville Kimball and his Purple Heart Medal. As Jason Linn would write, “Orville Kimball you are not forgotten. We remember you and honor you on the altar of freedom. May you be smiling down and your soul be free."

This ceremony is made possible through the selfless efforts of CPT Zachariah Fike, MOPH Assistant Americanism Officer and an active duty member of the Vermont National Guard, who started “Purple Hearts Reunited” two years ago. CPT Fike purchases or receives lost or stolen Purple Heart medals and locates the closest family member so that he can return the medal to them. If no living relative can be located or they do not want the medal, he will find an acceptable repository for the medal, such as a museum.

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation, in agreement with the Texas Historical Commission, manages and provides financial support to the National Museum of the Pacific War which, in turn, provides national leadership in articulating the history and lessons learned from the Pacific-Asiatic Theater of Operations during World War II. It also preserves the legacy of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and the men and women who served in this theater of operations, and facilitates programs that honor and support all veterans, past and present.

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, through veteran service, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Through the VAVS Program, MOPH volunteers selflessly provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA medical facilities and State Veterans Homes

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Brandon Vinyard
Admiral Nimitz Foundation
830-997-8600 x205
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