The soul and dedication to earn a Purple Heart medal does not die with its recipient, even if awarded posthumously and lost for years, in some cases decades.
Rich Roszelle of Bluffton, the S.C. adjutant for Military Order of the Purple Heart organization, will attest to that, after a quest to find descendants for a medal found in 2012 during a home remodeling project in Conway.
The medal had been awarded to Odell Holden, an Army technical sergeant from Myrtle Beach who was killed in action Aug. 28, 1944, at age 23, in France during World War II.
A formal presentation of the medal to a nephew and niece of Holden’s, whom Roszelle said are both local residents, will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Hall of Heroes, Sands Ocean Dunes Resort, 201 75th. Ave. N., Myrtle Beach, which opens at 9 a.m. daily.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data show that the Purple Heart, the nation’s oldest military award, was introduced as the “Badge of Military Merit” by Gen. George Washington in 1782.
Roszelle credited Shane Gray, who was cleaning up a house on U.S. 501 in Conway, for initiating the whole process that involved several people to ensure a home for this Purple Heart was found with Holden’s heirs.
It’s run by Capt. Zachariah Fike; he serves in the Army National Guard as a captain in St. Albans, Vt. He’s served in combat in tours in Iraq and Afghanistan ... and was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He has been successful in 30 other families with recipients of Purple Hearts medals, and he’s working on 100 more. He really helped us a lot.
Odell had five sisters and two brothers, all from the Conway-Myrtle Beach area. All were deceased, but Capt. Fike was able to contact a nephew, Buddy Richardson, and niece, Lois Weatherford. They will be receiving the old Purple Heart medal in the case. I’ll have Shane Gray and Capt. Fike present the old Purple Heart medal to the family in its original box.
We’re composed of veterans and wounded warriors from World War II right up through Afghanistan. I was a Vietnam veteran. … It’s a fraternal organization. …
We have 987 members in South Carolina. It’s $50 for a lifetime membership. We provided veterans with a service office, and we’re always looking for new members.