Black WW2 Veteran Denied Purple Heart Due To Racism Finally Receives Honour At 99
Osceola ‘Ozzie’ Fletcher, a Black US Army private who fought in the Battle of Normandy, has finally received the Purple Heart he was denied because of racism.
In 1944, shortly after D-Day, Osceola Fletcher was in a vehicle delivering supplies to allied troops off the coast of France, when the vehicle was hit by a German missile. The driver of the vehicle was killed, while Fletcher was left with a large gash in his head.
In most cases, this injury would lead to a Purple Heart being awarded, as they are awarded to US soldiers who are wounded by an enemy or hostile. However, the 99-year-old has only just received the medal.
Fletcher’s daughter Jacqueline Streets explained to CNN how it was racism that stopped her father from receiving his medal:
The problem was that the Black soldiers were considered injured and an injury wasn’t considered an incidence of Purple Heart. The White soldiers were considered wounded.
It really hit him that he wanted to be heard. He wanted the truth to be known. He wanted to be validated and acknowledged.
Fletcher had not been taken to an official medical officer who could make a medical record, and was instead simply patched up.
On the back of her father receiving the award, Streets noted:
I think it was an amazing weight off of his shoulders to finally be validated, to finally have his story out there. The sad thing is that there are so many more who have the same story and were never acknowledged.
Similar stories are thought to have happened in the US Army, and Lt. Col. Scott Johnson, the Army Human Resources Command’s chief of awards and decorations, explained:
Around 2,000 African American troops took part in the battle in various capacities, including Fletcher and Jones. Although they faced the same dangers as everyone else, they also faced racial segregation both in service and when they returned home.
Discussing the ability to give Fletcher his award, as well as Johnnie Jones, a 101-year-old former warrant officer, Johnson said, ‘It was an honour to provide them the recognition they deserve.’
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