Purple Heart exhibit opens at military museum in Cape Coral

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:
FILE: Purple Heart medals, bearing the image of Gen. George Washington, are seen prior to the start of a ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington in this April 2007 file photo. AP PHOTO/CHARLES DHARAPAK/FILE

All 360 Purple Heart recipients in Florida who were killed in action since the  September 11 attacks in 2001 were honored in Lee County.

A Purple Heart exhibit is opening at Southwest Florida Military Museum and Library in Cape Coral Saturday night.

“Freedom has a flavor the protector will never know,” said Jack Wagner, a Vietnam War veteran. 

Wagner from Cape Coral knows what it’s like to put his life on the line for our country., His purple heart medal he earned during his time in Vietnam serves as a symbol.

“I laid in a trench in a graveyard for 24 hours before I was evacuated,” Wagner said. “So it was horrifying as a young man. Yes, it was.”

The exhibit displays the pictures of more than 300 individuals who fought for American freedom.

Richard hunt is another veteran who bears a purple heart. Hunt and other veterans clapped as the ribbon was cut on the new exhibit. 

“The worst thing in the world that we could ever do would be to forget,” Hunt said. 

One display in the exhibit features all the medals World War II veteran Roy Leo received during his time serving the United States.

Leo lived in Cape Coral. He died when he was 98 years old. He was the last enlisted Navy flyer in WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War.

Staff told WINK News, Leo visited to the museum every week, and he would have been proud, just like many others who are attending the exhibit’s grand opening.

The program runs until 8:30 p.m. and the exhibit will be available to visit at the museum during regular business hours.

“Freedom is not free,” Hunt said. “It is not, and you see the price of that on there.” 

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