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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

For Immediate Release

Quantico, VA - February 3, 2011


On February 11, 2011, the Secretary of the Navy will present former Lance Corporal Ned E. Seath, U.S. Marine Corps, with the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism while serving as a Machine Gun Team Leader with Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 July 1966.

While the story of Ned Seath’s heroism is in itself an amazing tale, this particular story is instead about those fellow marines who stood beside Ned Seath on that fateful day, witnessed his courage firsthand, shared in his fear of certain death while facing an overwhelming enemy force, and who later vowed to make certain that his bravery on the battlefield would not go unrecognized.

In 2003, Bill Hutton, one of the Marines who fought beside Ned Seath and now the Senior Vice Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, attended a reunion of the 3d Battalion, 4th Marines.  While there, Hutton was reunited with Ned Seath for the first time since their service together in Vietnam.  When he discovered that Seath had only been. awarded the Purple Heart medal for the wounds he received in the Battle of Hastings, but no recognition for his extraordinary heroism, Hutton undertook a seven year crusade to correct this egregious oversight. 

One of the first people Hutton contacted was David Richwine (MG, USMC, Ret),  who at the time had been Seath and Hutton’s Platoon Commander and who himself had received the Silver Star Medal in the same battle.  In turn, they contacted former CPT Robert J. Modrzejewski, the Company Commander, and John J. McGinty, the former Platoon Sergeant, both of whom received the Medal of Honor for their heroism in the same battle.  All agreed that Seath’s bravery should have been recognized and they encouraged Hutton’s efforts to right a forty-five year wrong.  Using the data and eyewitness statements collected by Hutton, MG Richwine signed the award recommendation and forwarded it to the U.S. Marine Corps for consideration.  Ultimately the award was approved by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, who will personally present the Navy Cross to Ned Seath.  

When asked “why?” he had devoted so much time and effort to ensuring that Seath’s actions would not go unrewarded, Hutton said “It’s simple, had it not been for Ned I would be laying under a headstone at Arlington with the inscription,:  William R. Hutton, born 4 July 1947, KIA Vietnam, 16 July 1966.”  In the words of the former Battalion Chaplain, Stanley J. Beach, who himself was seriously wounded in the same action, “had it not been for the heroism of Ned Seath that night, our entire Company would have been wiped out.”  Beach later recalled that as he and Hutton sat on the edge of a bomb crater the morning after the attack, Hutton looked at him and said, “Well Padre, I’ll bet you wish you had picked a different unit!”  Hutton too recalls that morning and said “When I was sitting there with Stan Beach, we prayed together and he took his cross from his lapel and handed it to me.  I wore that cross on my utility shirt up Hill 400 and lost it when they cut my shirt off of me to treat my wounds.”

So, as we all gather at the U.S. Marine Museum, Quantico, VA on February 11, 2011 to belatedly honor a young Marine for his bold leadership, undaunted courage, and complete dedication of duty to his country and to his fellow Marines, let us also honor the perseverance of his brothers in battle who made sure that no Marine was left behind or forgotten.

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance.  Through the VAVS program, MOPH volunteers provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans Homes.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, 352-753-5535
Email: PublicRelations@Purpleheart.org
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