Help get Leonard Blake, WWII Merchant Marine Veteran the Purple Heart that he Deserves!
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Leonard Blake, 89 is a WWII Veteran of Whittier CA. At age 15 he was told by the Navy that he was too young and they told him to go sign up for the US Merchant Marine. His first ship was the SS Mary A. Livermore. While anchored in Okinawa, May 27th 1945 a kamikaze plane hit the ship. Eleven men died and seven were severely injured, including Leonard Blake. His legs were completely shattered and part of his foot was missing. He begged them not to amputate his legs so they did not. Today he walks with a limp and a cane.
These photos & several others, were sent by the US Navy to Leonard's daughter. Leonard remembers being carried off the ship next to the US Navy Armed Guard gunner who apologized to Leonard for not firing at the plane. Leonard was transferred to 3 military hospitals and eventually turned over to a city hospital in California due to the fact that Merchant Seaman were considered civilians at the time.
It was 43 years later in 1989 that the USMM of WWII received Combat Veteran status but the Purple Heart was never given to Leonard. It is on record that several USMMWWII Veterans have received the Purple Heart in the past and as recently as last year, several civilian WWII weathermen have received a Purple Heart for being wounded. Several other civilians including reporters injured while in war time have also been bestowed this prestigious award. As recently as this year, his congressman was contacted and she turned it over to the US Coast Guard. They advised him he was not eligible for the Purple Heart because he was “a civilian” at the time. Let's get this man the medal that he wants so badly as his wish is to be buried in the Purple Heart section of a military cemetery. Thank you in advance.
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