Purple Heart Long Overdue

North Hampton Man To Receive Honor
48 Years After Earning It

By Steve Jusseaume, sjusseaume@seacoastonline.com

Hampton Union, Tuesday, October 2, 2001

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
David Chevalier
at Fort Dix, N.J.
NORTH HAMPTON — Any day, perhaps this week, David Chevalier will get a phone call from the office of Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., asking him to attend a ceremony in Manchester or, maybe, Concord, where the senator will formally present the North Hampton native with a Purple Heart he earned in the Korean conflict half a century ago.

According to Smith's office, Chevalier "was never officially presented with the Purple Heart he was entitled to receive for his bravery during the Korean War."

The irony is, Chevalier has had the medal in the top drawer of his dresser for decades, though he doesn't recall when he received it.

"It just came in the mail I think, but I don't remember when," Chevalier said this weekend at his Atlantic Avenue home.

What precipitated the upcoming formal ceremony was a request made more than a year ago by Chevalier and his wife Chris for a discount on medication he is taking.

"We applied for the discounted medications, but we were told there was no record of David receiving a Purple Heart, which we needed," said Chris, David's wife of 48 years. "We began writing to the military, to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, but they wrote us back that a fire in the building in 1973 destroyed a lot of the records, and they didn't have anything. It's been an experience, i'll tell you."

While David Chevalier, 69, and now a retired mason, doesn't remember when he received the medal, he recalls the Korean conflict and those days very well -- though, his wife said, he seldom talks about it.

"I wasn't in Korea that long, only a couple months," he said, recalling leaving Boston on Feb. 29, 1953, for the West Coast and eventually Camp Drake in Japan. He landed in Korea on Easter Sunday, a member of the 5th Regimental Combat Team.

"It was the night of June 12th," said Chevalier. "I was an assistant machine gunner. We moved toward an outpost in a convoy. The commander got lost I think, we damn near got blown up before we even got there, but finally we were getting settled into place and we got hit. I'll never forget that."

Chevalier was hit in the left ankle, took a bullet in his right foot, and received head lacerations. He was flown to a hospital in Japan, where he convalesced for three months. Chevalier was awarded a Bronze Service Star and received a combat infantry badge, in addition to the Purple Heart. Eventually, he was told he was going home. By plane instead of ship, he recalled with a laugh.

"I don't think the plane beat the boat back," Chevalier said with a smile. "We landed in Midway and stayed for three days. Sailors and gooney birds. Got to California on a Friday night and had to stay until Monday. I got to New Jersey on a Tuesday and was finally discharged on Friday.

"I had only one set of clothes, got into South Station (in Boston) and who greets me but these two MPs. They took one look at me, they wanted my papers. 'You see that shoe shine place over there, you go get those shoes shined now,' I remember them saying. It's funny, those two guys probably never left South Station and here they are telling me."

David Chevalier in Korea in 1953

Chevalier doesn't talk much about the war, except to say the conflict ("Korea was only a police action, it never was a declared war, you know") wasn't fought the right way.

"There were so many limitations, we couldn't go past the 38th parallel," he said. The current situation, stemming from the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, is quite different, Chevalier added.

"This is going to take years. We're not going to get it done overnight, and I'm afraid a lot of innocent people are going to get killed."

He remembers Japan fondly, and said he'd be living there now if it hadn't been that soldiers had to serve stateside after their tour of duty was over.

"I loved the place, the people. If I could have come home to get Chris, and gone back, I would have stayed in the Army," Chevalier said.

Instead, he served one additional year in the reserves and left the service. Then, last year, in response to ever-increasing prescription drug costs, the Chevaliers set upon their journey to find evidence of his receiving the Purple Heart.

Frustrated in their attempts to find documentation of the injuries, the Chevaliers called Smith's office a year ago. and "they have been wonderful," Chris said.

So the documentation was found, and two weeks ago Smith scheduled a ceremony, only to cancel at the last minute owing to his required attendance in Washington. D.C.

A second ceremony was planned for last Friday, but the Chevaliers couldn't make that one. So the couple waits for the third and, it is to be hoped, last phone call.

More than the medal Itself, the Chevaliers will be glad to get the recognition David deserved 48 years ago.

"It's the documentation we really need, but a formal presentation will be nice, and David certainly deserves it," said his wife.

Chevalier Gets Purple Heart

By Terrill Covey, tcovey@seacoastonline.com

Hampton Union

"Serving the Seacoast Since 1899"

Vol. 102, No. 28, Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Price 75 cents
David Chevalier of North Hampton was awarded the Purple Heart on Friday morning.

Senator Bob Smith. (R) New Hampshire. presented Chevalier with the medal at a press conference at Faro Gardens in Hampton Falls.

"I am proud to give this to you," Smith said as he presented Chevalier with the Purple Heart. "Actually, I'm not giving it to you. You earned it."

Chevalier was a private first class with the 5th Regimental Combat Team when he was injured while fighting in Korea in 1953.

He was shot in the left ankle and right foot and received lacerations to his head on June 13, 1953.

Smith presented Chevalier with an engraved Purple Heart Medal, an official certification of award, and a signed congressional record statement.

Many of Chevalier's family and friends attended the ceremony, and Smith said it was nice to see so many people there with him, because the event is so important.

"I appreciate this very much." Chevalier said. "This was nice."

Chevalier received the medal 48 years after he was injured because of a problem with receiving prescription benefits. He had contacted the state to request a discount on prescription medication, which he is taking in connection with the injuries he received. He was told that there was no record of his receiving the Purple Heart, and that record would be needed in order for him to receive the discount.

That fueled letters and phone calls by Chevalier and his wife Chris to the military and the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

When those avenues proved unsuccessful, Chevalier contacted Sen. Smith's office, and Friday, he finally got the paperwork. and recognition he has been awaiting.

But recognition wasn't what Chevalier was seeking. I just did what I had to," he said. "A lot of people did a lot more than I did."

He said the Korean War was very different from the present war Americans are facing.

"This is going to take a while," he said. "We're living in a different world, and this is just the beginning."

He praised the young men fighting in the new war, while remaining humble about his own accomplishment. After his injuries, Chevalier continued to serve the country for another year in the Army Reserves and was promoted to sergeant on July 24, 1954.

Senator Bob Smith presenting Purple Heart
Medal to David Chevalier on October 19, 2001.
The Purple Heart Medal