WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A local veteran has finally received his Purple Heart, nearly 70 years after he was injured in action while fighting in Korea. Don Van Cleve, of Bend, was in Washington D.C. with Honor Flight of Central Oregon on Thursday. They were visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial when Congressman Greg Walden surprised the group by reading the telegram sent to Van Cleve’s parents in 1951. "‘We regret to inform you that your son, Pvt. First Class Donald Lewis Van Cleve, Jr., United States Marine Corps, has been wounded in action, 24 September 1951 in the Korean area in the performance of his duty and service of his country'." But, Walden said, that was only part of the story, "His parents would later learn that Mr. Van Cleve was in a foxhole with other Marines when an incoming grenade exploded near his helmet. He lost his hearing in one ear and he still has shrapnel in his back, today."
Walden’s office learned the Bend man earned his Purple Heart but never received the actual medal. He explained to the group, "He went a whole bunch of years and never got this medal. And it is my great honor and privilege to present Don Van Cleve with his Purple Heart." Walden says he was honored to present Van Cleve with the medal in front of the memorial honoring the conflict in which he fought.
During the ceremony, Walden also presented each veteran in the group with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, in honor of their service.