NEWBURGH, New York – A Mansfield Purple Heart recipient has been chosen to be one of the nation’s 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project honorees.
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joe Wesner, a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, will represent his fellow Purple Heart heroes as Ohio’s representative at a multi-day tribute to the courage and sacrifice of American’s combat wounded.
“Joe and his fellow Patriot Project honorees are true American heroes,” said Richie Lay, a Purple Heart recipient and chairman of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. “America’s Purple Heart veterans have given so much to defend freedom and that sacrifice must always be remembered. We are privileged to be able to provide this unique salute to service for our Purple Heart heroes.”
The Purple Heart Patriot Project is a program of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. The all-expense-paid trip includes visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s headquarters, a special tour of the newly renovated National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and other tributes to service.
“Our Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for America and this is our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of a grateful nation," said Col. Russ Vernon (Ret.), executive director for the National Purple Heart Honor Mission. "For some, this will be like the homecoming they never had. We received hundreds of nominations from across the country and we look forward to honoring Joe for his lifelong sacrifice and service to his community.”
Reflecting on his 13-year Army career, SSG Wesner said, “Military service gave me a sense of pride and accomplishments.”
Joe Wesner first enlisted in the U.S. Army in May of 2001 and his military career took him around the globe, including deployments to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
On July 27, 2010, while manning an Observation Point in Dandar, Afghanistan, a group of 5 to 8 Taliban fighters opened fire on SSG Wesner’s position with PKMs, RPGs and small arms fire. After an extensive firefight, SSG Wesner ran to secure additional ammunitions when an RPG exploded just a few feet from his position, throwing him into a trench and rendering him unconscious.
When he regained consciousness, Wesner eliminated the RPG team before they could fire again, despite suffering wounds to his right hip and left shoulder. Along with his Purple Hearts, SSG Wesner was awarded numerous medals and commendations throughout his career, including the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” the Army Commendation Medal with “V” for valor, the Order of Saint Maurice and more.
After his time in the service SSG Wesner, a married father of three, founded Ultimate Veteran Adventures Foundation, a non-profit organization that engages veterans in outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.
The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located just north of West Point, New York, at the site where General George Washington first awarded the Medal for Military Merit in 1782 during the Revolutionary War.
The badge, shaped like a purple heart was the forerunner of today’s medal. In addition to creation of the museum, the National Purple Heart Honor Mission was instrumental in the creation of the Purple Heart Forever stamp now issued by the US Postal Service, and the organization was the driving force behind bipartisan legislation establishing the nation’s first official Purple Heart Commemorative Coin, which will be minted in 2022
Those wishing to learn more about the National Purple Heart Honor Mission or donate to support the Purple Heart Patriot Project should visit www.PurpleHeartMission.org.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PURPLE HEART HONOR MISSION
The National Purple Heart Honor Mission is an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which supports a variety of programs to promote the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, pay tribute to our Purple Heart recipients, and educate all Americans about our combat-wounded veterans to ensure those who sacrificed for freedom are never forgotten. Learn more and support their efforts at www.PurpleHeartMission.org.