One World War II veteran finally got his due after more than three-quarters of a century. Osceola “Ozzie” Fletcher served this great nation bravely on the beaches of Normandy. However, when it came time for the United States to honor Fletcher, they came up short at the time.
Fletcher earned his Purple Heart many times over during his service. However, back then, the US military overlooked Fletcher and thousands of other Black WWII veterans for decades. That changed last Friday.
World War II took the lives and limbs of countless soldiers and civilians. At the same time, those left here in the United States pulled together to bolster the war effort. Everyone pitched in to help out. It wasn’t just everyday Americans who helped out. Stars like Betty White and Don Knotts signed up to do all they could to assist. However, one Purple Heart recipient learned that the support stopped at the top for some soldiers.
Private Fletcher was there in one of the most famous battles of WWII. He helped deliver supplies to Allied Forces on D-Day. The Germans fired on Fletcher’s supply truck during the invasion, according to Stars and Stripes. A missile smashed into their vehicle and killed the driver. Fletcher survived. On that day, June 6, 1944, he earned his Purple Heart. Fletcher finally received his medal over 77 years later. The United States Armed Forces squared things away with the 99-year old veteran on Friday, June 20, 2021.
The 22-year old soldier suffered a gash on his head and wounds to his legs. The scar on his head is visible to this day, according to his daughter, Jacqueline Streets. During the Purple Heart ceremony, Fletcher talked about his experience on D-Day. “We’re leaving the water. And we’re going into the forest,” Fletcher said. “We had heard about the Germans setting off missiles the size of asteroids.” It was one of those asteroid-sized missiles that struck his vehicle.
Osceola Fletcher Gets His Purple Heart
Like most other things in America during the 40s, the Armed Forces were segregated. So, when Private Ozzie Fletcher technically earned his Purple Heart, he was overlooked. After years of effort he and his family were finally able to right the wrong.
The private ceremony took place at the Fort Hamilton Community Club in Brooklyn, New York last Friday. Private Fletcher wore full US Army regalia while seated in his wheelchair. General James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army gave a short statement to the New York Post. In that statement, he said of the Purple Heart recipient, “He has spent his entire life giving to those around him… Today it’s Ozzie’s turn to receive.”