Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sailor Gets His Medal

Oscar Hale was serving on the cruiser USS Birmingham during the battle of Leyte Gulf when, on Oct. 24, 1944, his ship pulled up alongside the damaged aircraft carrier USS Princeton to help fight fires on that vessel."My grandfather was trying to put out the fires on the Princeton, which was kamikazied," said Hale's grandson, Judge Oscar J. Hale Jr. "There were more explosions, and he and several of the other crewmen were injured." Oscar Hale's son, Oscar J. Hale, received his draft notice Dec. 26, 1965, 20 years to the day after Oscar Hale was discharged from the Navy. But even though father and son served their country, no one knew what happened to the Purple Heart awarded to Oscar Hale for his injury at Leyte Gulf. More than 60 years after Hale was injured in the line of duty, members of the Laredo chapter of The Military Order of the Purple Heart gathered Tuesday in his grandson's courtroom to present him with a new Purple Heart medal.
USS Birmingham CL-62 Alongside burning USS Princeton CVL-23
"It means a lot to me and my father and uncles to have this medal now," Oscar J. Hale Jr. said. He stood with his father and the order's members before his bench in the courtroom to accept the medal. During the ceremony, Hale praised the people who served the U.S. in past wars and who now serve in the country's current conflicts. He pointed out the sacrifice made by those who received the Purple Heart. "You don't get recommended for this award," Ed Botello, the order's vice commander, said at the end of the ceremony. Botello, who was injured twice while fighting in France during World War II, said the order's commander, Richard Chamberlain, pitched the idea of presenting the Hales with a new Purple Heart. "He said, ‘We have to get that medal'," Botello said. "He earned it. He deserves it."

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