After thrice being denied a Purple Heart that he should have received long ago, 95-year-old Allensburg resident Harry Shoop will finally get one during a special World War II Awards Ceremony on Aug. 7.
The ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro.
According to Patty Kendrick, one of Shoop’s two daughters, he was shot in a knuckle in February of 1945 while fighting in the jungle in Luzon, Philippines. She said he also survived hand-to-hand combat on the island.
“He says he just wrapped it up with whatever he had to wrap it up with and went on,” Kendrick said. “He says that back in those days, in the Philippines, there were no prisoners of war.”
At the Aug. 7 ceremony Shoop will receive a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, World War II Victory Medal and Combat Infantry Medal. They will pinned on his chest by the oldest and youngest of his four grandchildren, Kendrick said.
According to his other daughter, Elaine Bouslog, Shoop was denied the Purple Heart in 1951 and 2010 due partly to missing paperwork, then again when she tried again to get information in 2013 and the government never responded.
“The last couple years he’s said he just wishes he could have (the Purple Heart) because he earned it,” Kendrick said. “He always thought the government would take care of him because of his service, but he found out differently.”
According to Kendrick, Shoop joined the National Guard in the late 1930s and entered active military service in October of 1940 upon federal activation of Ohio’s 37th Infantry Division. He saw wartime duty with the 37th and 38th Infantry divisions, then after World War II was commissioned in the Ohio National Guard and eventually obtained the rank of lieutenant colonel. He retired with 31 years of military service. Shoop was also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., a commanding officer with the Ohio National Guard 137th Military Police Battalion, an officer with the Fairborn Police Department, and had 50 years and three months of federal service when he retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1993.
In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, Shoop wrote a memoir of his experiences in the war. Orders for the memoir will be taken during the Aug. 7 ceremony.
Kendrick said over the years some of her father’s records were misplaced, that a fire was involved at some point, and that some of his military records needed to be recreated. She said her sister has done most of the leg work tracking them down.
During his years in the National Guard, Shoop competed in national National Guard shooting matches at Camp Perry on the shores of Lake Erie. On Tuesday, despite his 96th birthday approaching on Aug. 17, Shoop was back at the shooting matches again.
During Flag Day ceremonies in Highland County in 2016, Shoop told the crowd about one of the World War II memories he holds most dear.
Shoop said he was on an island in Luzon where the men he was with had been given a break from heavy fighting. But just as they were preparing to relax and wash clothes they’d been wearing for about a month, they were informed that a small hidden village of 130 or so people on the island was still being held hostage, so Shoop and others were sent to liberate it.
On their way to the village the American soldiers ran into some Philippino guerillas who told them there were only four Japanese soldiers left guarding the village, and Shoop said those guards were dispatched of quickly.
“When that happened them people came out of the bushes and out of the village crying, screaming and wanting to kiss you,” Shoop said.
After that, Shoop said, the islanders prepared a huge feast for the Americans just as the soldiers were ready to leave, and the village mayor wanted the U.S. soldiers to see the village school, begging them to the point that he was almost crying.
Shoop said there were 38 ladies and little kids in the small building. The lone teacher had the soldiers line up against a wall, said something to the children, then when they turned around there was an American flag hanging perfectly on a wall.
“They looked toward the flag and did the Pledge of Allegiance, every word in English, and every word was right,” Shoop said. “Then they looked back at us and I noticed tears running down my eyes… I wanted to say something, but it was one of those times when if you speak, you know you’re going to choke up.”
Finally, Shoop said, he managed to shout out a Philippino word that means victory, then the school children shouted it back to him. Then the shouts were repeated.
Shoop said he had learned how to do all the dirty things in war, but on that day he did something nice.
“This little incident has stayed with me over the years – it’s a picture embedded in my brain – how honest, sincere and dedicated those people were. I still think about it every now and then. Sometimes I wake up thinking about it,” Shoop said. “We did the right thing and at a right time, and how the American flag was right there in the middle of it all, perfectly straight, it’s one of the more decent things I’ve done in my life.”
The Aug. 7 event is open to the public and refreshments will be served after the ceremony.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.