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Woodcraft Volunteers Turn Purpleheart Pens for Purple Heart Medal RecipientsBack to Press Releases
PARKERSBURG, W. VA. (April 2013) — Woodcraft is helping a military chaplain provide pens made of purpleheart wood to recipients of the prestigious Purple Heart Medal.

Chaplain Mike McCawley became acquainted with Woodcraft through the Turn for Troops program. As part of that program, Woodcraft stores nationwide host turn-a-thons on or near Veterans Day each year to provide one-of-a-kind wooden pens (97,717 to date) to military personnel on active duty overseas and in rehabilitation facilities and hospitals as thank-you gifts. The goal is to encourage soldiers to stay in touch with loved ones stateside and to let them know that people back home are thinking of them. McCawley has helped distribute some of the pens to troops for the past few years.

McCawley also participates in Purple Heart Medal ceremonies, so when he was given some choice purpleheart wood recently, his first thought was to turn it into pens for the medal recipients. He contacted Woodcraft for help in crafting the pens, and Betty Secrist, manager of the Parkersburg, West Virginia, Woodcraft store, accepted the challenge and began spreading the word to her staff and customers. Part-time employee Mike Collins, a retired Army staff sergeant, earned the title of “purpleheart pen turner” after he turned almost all of the 140 pens donated from the store. Customers turned the remainder of the pens over the past month.

Ben Bice, Woodcraft product development manager, who also turned several pens, organized a Purpleheart/Purple Heart turning demo event at the Parkersburg store on Saturday, April 6, and invited local turners to help. And Harrisville, West Virginia, Mayor Alan Haught, who learned about the project from his daughter, Lori Milner, Woodcraft marketing manager, turned 22 pens in his home shop.

To date, approximately 170 pens have been turned for Chaplain McCawley. “This was a great idea for our vets,” Secrist said.

“I think that this is an awesome program, and I am very proud that I was able to participate in it,” Bice said. “I hope that it has also taught us not only to value our freedoms but also to remember to thank our service men and women every time the opportunity presents itself.”

Dating back to the Revolutionary War, the Badge of Military Merit or Decoration of the Purple Heart was established by order of General George Washington on Aug. 7, 1782, at Newburg-on-the-Hudson, New York. No awards were presented after the end of the war, but it was revived by presidential order in 1932.

Initially those eligible for the award included any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Forces after April 5, 1917, was wounded, killed, or died or might thereafter die of wounds received:

• In action against an enemy of the United States.

• In action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

• While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

• As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

• As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force. Later amendments added eligibility in circumstances relating to international terrorist attacks, military peacekeeping operations outside the US, friendly fire and being held a prisoner of war, as well as eliminating eligibility for civilians.

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