Lake Dallas Recognized as Purple Heart City

Lake Dallas Recognized as Purple Heart City

by Steve Gamel

Lake Cities residents and visitors who happen to be passing through town may have noticed a few extra road signs leading into Lake Dallas. The city was recently designated as a Purple Heart City in recognition of being the home for many former combat veterans who served in all branches of the military and were either wounded or killed in action.

Lake Dallas has nine Purple Heart recipients still living in the area.

“How could you not be excited about this designation?” Lake Dallas Mayor Michael Barnhart said with a pridefulness in his voice. Barnhart added that the commemorative signs could be found at all major entry points to Lake Dallas. “We found out about a month ago, and we couldn’t be more proud as a community.”

There are cities all over the country that have been designated as Purple Heart cities by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all veterans who have received the Purple Heart honor. Per its website, the Order is composed exclusively of Purple Heart recipients and is the only veterans service organization comprised strictly of combat veterans.

Funds for welfare, rehabilitation and service work carried on by the organization are derived through the collection of used household items, the operation of thrift stores, through the donation of automobiles and, at the community level, from the annual distribution of its official flower, the Purple Heart Viola.

Lake Dallas was the latest to join the esteemed list of cities many of these veterans call home and was recognized during a regularly-scheduled city council meeting on February 8.

City officials were presented with the sign, and Barnhart said the city also recognized those combat veterans who could attend with a special certificate. Those former military veterans who currently live in Lake Dallas are Joe Beaver (USMC – Vietnam), Tyler Carroll (US Army – Afghanistan), Richard Elskamp (US Air Force – Iraq), Wayne Freeland (US Army – Vietnam), Carl Johnson (US Army – Vietnam), Jon Lunkwicz (US Army – Vietnam), Don Mauzy (US Army – Vietnam), Robert Spinks (US Army – World War II), and Gus Whittschack (US Army – Vietnam).

“It was a wonderful night. We had five Purple Heart recipients who could attend,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said that while having Lake Dallas be recognized as a Purple Heart City is a tremendous honor, it was also unexpected. Apparently, an anonymous resident wrote a letter to the Military Order of the Purple Heart to let them know about Lake Dallas. It was not something brought on by city officials, who were completely caught off guard.

“I honestly had no idea until about a month ago when we were approached by the organization,” Barnhart said. “We don’t even know who wrote in on our behalf. We are obviously very excited.”

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