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La. Guard installations become part of the Purple Heart Trail

By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs

PINEVILLE, La. – On June 1, 2023, the Louisiana National Guard, in conjunction with the Governor’s office and the Louisiana Military Order of the Purple Heart, held an official ceremony to unveil signs designating seven LANG installations as Purple Heart Installations.

“This speaks highly of my state and the National Guard to have this recognition,” said Purple Heart recipient Richard O’Brien, adjutant for the Louisiana Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The ceremony was hosted at the state’s capitol building in Baton Rouge and was attended by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, LANG Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, LANG Director of Joint Staff Brig. Gen. Thomas Friloux, LANG State Command Chief Warrant Officer Chief Warrant Officer 5 Robin Williams, LANG Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Clifford Ockman, LANG installation command teams, and members of the Louisiana Military Order of the Purple Heart.

“We had Memorial Day earlier this week, and we paid tribute to remember and honor the sacrifices of those who have fallen because of the enemy and those with Purple Hearts know how close they came to being among that number,” said Edwards. “To be able to have you here this week to unveil the Purple Heart Installation Program is especially meaningful to me.”

The Purple Heart Installation Project is an initiative to honor those service members and veterans who were wounded in combat. This initiative recognizes LANG’s installations as Purple Heart facilities and will provide designated parking spots and other benefits to recipients of the Purple Heart. During Phase One, the LANG identified the following installations to be named as Purple Heart Installations: Louisiana National Guard Training Center Pineville, Camp Cook, Camp Minden, Gillis W. Long Center, Camp Villere, Jackson Barracks and the Armed Forces Readiness Center in Baton Rouge.

“As we designate our installations as Purple Heart Installations, we acknowledge Louisiana’s gratitude to the men and women of the United States military who were killed or wounded because of an act of an enemy of the United States,” said Waddell. “This designation means something to me, and I know it means something to every service member we have standing here today as well as our governor who also happens to be a military veteran.”

Upon unveiling the new installation signs, the LANG installations join the Purple Heart Trail community. In 1992, the Military Order created the Purple Heart Train, which contains states, cities, communities, bridges, roads and monuments around the country that silently, yet visually, pay tribute to Purple Heart recipients. The Purple Heart Trail begins in Mount Vernon, Virginia at George Washington’s burial site.

“The Purple Heart was originally established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782,” said Waddell. “An awardee is not recommended for this award but rather entitled to it upon meeting the criteria.”

“George Washington considered honor more important than money, and the Purple Heart is really the only medal you don’t want, but if you have it, you need to wear it with honor and pride and understand that the sacrifices made not only affect you, but your entire family and our country,” said O’Brien. “The Purple Heart should be elevated to a position that people know exactly what the Purple Heart is about, and this does that.”

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