Decades after he should have been recognized for serving in World War II, Osceola “Ozzie” Fletcher received a Purple Heart after sustaining injuries during the Battle of Normandy.
The 99-year-old received the medal at the Fort Hamilton Army base in Brooklyn, NY on June 18, 2021, more than 75 years after the battle took place.
Fletcher, a native of Brooklyn, served in the 254th Port Battalion. During his service he was wounded three times, however racism prevented him from ever receiving a Purple Heart.
As a 22-year-old, the WWII veteran’s vehicle was struck by a German missile killing the driver and injuring him, he was overlooked.
“Black soldiers didn’t get the Purple Heart. They got injured, damaged, hurt. But they never got wounded. Only the white men who were wounded (hurt) got Purple Hearts,” he told Our Time Press in 2020.
It wasn’t until seven years ago that the wheels began turning to make things right, but it wasn’t because someone remembered Fletcher. It was his daughter, Jacqueline Streets.
Streets told The Washington Post that her father asked her about getting replacement medals for his service.
However, there was a roadblock. Fletcher’s records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. Thankfully, the WWII veteran had given an interview documenting his experience.
Streets reached out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the interview and advocated for her father.
Finally, it was agreed. Fletcher would receive his Purple Heart.
When Fletcher learned of his award, something he should have received 77 years earlier, he was “disappointingly cool.”
“How do you feel about that?” Streets asked.
“Good,” he said.
Finally, after seven decades of injustice Fletcher received a Purple Heart in front of military officials and family.
“He has spent his entire life giving to those around him whether they were brothers in arms, families, or his community. Well, today it’s Ozzie’s turn to receive,” Gen. James McConville during the ceremony, according to the New York Post.
“We’re finally looking at all of our soldiers in the same way, America is trying to shift its thinking about culture and about race and I appreciate that,” his daughter said.
Fletcher is not the only Black soldier to have been skipped over. There are others who were never awarded medals, and it is wrong that that happened.
We need to make it right. Share if you agree.
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