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Vet injured 50 years ago receives Purple Heart
Brigadier General Patrick Donahue presents a certificate of recognition to Purple Heart recipient James Turner as Tonya Malpass, of the VFW, looks on. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
While serving in the Korean War, James C. Turner was severely wounded in an explosion, injuring parts of his thigh, hip, buttocks, abdominal and lower spine.
“He then went through 433 days of rehabilitation,” Brig. Gen. Patrick Donahue said. “Mr. Turner was able to walk out of the hospital in October of 1950.”
Tonya Malpass, with the VFW, also shared some of Turner’s history. She said for decades after the injury and recovery, Turner’s records showed he’d never received a Purple Heart or made a single claim with the VA.
On Friday, at 78, James C. Turner finally got his Purple Heart.
Donahue presented the medal to Turner, thanking him for his service and giving him what Donahue said was long overdue recognition.
Upon receiving his medal, Turner, originally from Bacon County, stood up and spoke about his experience in the military, beginning in 1948 when he signed up to be a cook.
“I was 17 and half, to the day. I was born on March 16, 1931, and went on Sept. 16, 1948. I went to Fort Jackson where I learned a few things,” he said, smiling. “I turned 18 on the high seas going to Japan.”
Despite his injury, Turner said joining the service was a great opportunity for a number of reasons.
“They paid me $75 a month. That was whole a lot for me. Working in the country you only made about $1 a day,” he said.
Turner’s family, including his twin sister, his wife and his children, sat in the audience with many friends and local community leaders who stood and gave him a thunderous round of applause.
County Commissioner John McIver, who said he briefly met Turner a few years back when he was running for office, was in the crowd. He said he believes it’s never too late to show appreciation for those who served long ago. 
“They deserve all the recognition they can get,” McIver said.
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