BAY MINETTE – Almost seven decades after being wounded during the Korean War, veteran Bill Silcox of Robertsdale received his Purple Heart medal Tuesday during a ceremony in the Baldwin County Commission chambers.
Silcox was a private first class in the Army’s 224th Infantry Regiment when he was wounded on March 14, 1952 in Kumsong, North Korea. Silcox said he was wounded twice during the campaign, but believes the medal was for the time he was hit in the leg by shrapnel.
“I was in two different battles at about that time,” he said. “I also got burned, but I believe this was when I was hit in the leg. The main thing I remember is that it was 30 degrees below zero. I didn’t think you could be that cold.”
Silcox said he went on inactive reserve duty for several years after the war and, over time, forgot about his unawarded medal. “I just got busy with my life and didn’t think about it,” he said.
Family members recently found his Purple Heart recommendation among Silcox’s papers and contacted state Veterans Affairs officials.
Baldwin County Veterans Service Officer Ray Williamson said service members such as Silcox should be recognized.
“We don't want to just be pro-military. We want to be pro-veteran. We don't want to just be for them while they're serving. We want to be there for them when they come home. When they go home with scars. When they come home with wounds,” Williamson said. “We are in the presence of greatness. We are this morning in the presence of true heroes. These gentlemen of the Purple Heart Association.”
Ed Evans of Silverhill, Alabama representative on the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, presented the medal to Silcox.
“It's a big honor for me as a Korean War and a Purple Heart recipient,” Evans said.
Baldwin County Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood said she had known Silcox her entire life growing up in Summerdale, but never knew that he had been wounded.
“He's actually from Summerdale and I'm so excited that you are here today and thank you, thank you, thank you for your service to our country. I didn't know all this about you,” she said. “I’m so proud of you.”
Commissioner Charles “Skip” Gruber said the award was long overdue.
“It was many years ago that you got wounded and now you're finally able to receive your Purple Heart,” Gruber said. “This should have been bestowed on you a long time ago. But, you've got it now and that's the main thing and I just thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you've done for our country. You were willing to step forward and go when the country needed you to protect us.”