In honor of Purple Heart Day, we wanted to recognize two gentlemen whose Purple Heart’s were received at a very great cost.
Mr. Vince Losada (below photo) was a bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress called the “Big Drip Jr.”. He was returning from his 25th mission over Germany when his flight was attacked by “intense and very accurate” flack. One burst of flack hit Losada, severing his right arm above the elbow and cutting up his back. A tourniquet was applied and morphine pumped into him, but it didn’t look good.
The “Big Drip Jr.’s” pilot later wrote, “The underside of the plane from the cockpit to the tail was covered with Vince’s blood from this wound. The flight surgeon told us that another fifteen minutes would have been fatal.” They considered flying to Russia, but decided to pull through to England. Boyd Smith, the waist gunner, wrote the next day, “I think he will pull through. He has a lot of grit and Thank God for letting us get him back.... Sure a rough mission for us today.”
Mr. Frank Pontisso served in the 5th Marine Division and was in the first wave to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima. On the 12th day of battle, he heard a marine call out “hit the deck.” Pontisso and two other Marines were struck by a mortar blast, but survived, despite being seriously injured. The last he remembers was receiving a shot of brandy from a corpsman after diving into his foxhole. Pontisso’s right arm was packed in ice, transported to a hospital ship, then Guam. A month later, gangrene set in, and his arm had to be amputated.
Mr. Losada and Mr. Pontisso both lost their right arms in 1945. Their only reward for this: a Purple Heart and certificate from the government. But that doesn’t matter. “The guys that deserve a Purple Heart are the ones that are buried there, you know.” said Mr. Pontisso