World War I veteran awarded Purple Heart 92 years later
July 7, 2010
In April 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to face the freezing, muddy trenches and deadly chemical weapons of the Great War in an effort to make the world safe for democracy. With courage and bravery, American citizens left the peaceful U.S. soil to engage an enemy thousands of miles away.
Cpl. Gus Bishop, then a 20-year-old Kentucky native, chose to fight beside his fellow countrymen. He was severely injured by gunfire during the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, Sept. 26, 1918.
Through the efforts of his grandson, nine decades later, Bishop was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries sustained in the largest American-led offense of World War I.
Maj. Donald Bishop, officer in charge of communications, 1st Sustainment Brigade, grandson of Cpl. Bishop, said he began searching for his grandfather's military records in an effort to find out about his military history.
"A couple years back I started digging around trying to find his records", said Donald. "I didn't get them for the purpose of getting him a Purple Heart. It was something I wanted, just to try and dig in and try to find some stuff about him."
Through the help of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Donald said he was able to obtain Gus's records.
The records stated Gus enlisted in the Army in September of 1917, and arrived in France in May of 1918. He was attached to the 39th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and Company E, 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division.
He was credited with serving in the Fort-le-Fere engagement, Battle of Saint Milhiel and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. He left France in May of 1919, and was honorably discharged in June of 1919.
Donald, a Kentucky native, said while going through Gus's records, he realized Gus was not awarded the Purple Heart for his injury.
The Purple Heart is awarded to servicemembers who are wounded while conducting combat operations. The award wasn't created until after World War I, however, all military servicemembers who were wounded after April 5, 1917 are eligible to receive the award.
After doing research, Donald said he learned his grandfather was qualified to receive the Purple Heart and, regardless of how long ago his service was, felt he deserved it.
"I think you ought to take care of Soldiers regardless of how long it's been," said Donald. "The fact that the grandson could do it, I thought was a pretty big honor."
Donald said he didn't remember much about his grandfather because he died when he was 8 years old.
"He was pretty quiet," said Donald. "My mom says he was always a really nice man and good to everybody. I just remember him always pretty calm, sitting back enjoying life."
"I can remember him talking about being shot but not any of the details," said Donald.
Donald said his grandfather was known for telling stories and embellishing, so he wasn't sure if his World War I story was exaggerated.
"Until a few years ago I never knew if he was just telling tall tales or not," said Donald.
Donald said he was happy once he was able to verify his grandfather's story by reviewing his military records.
Although his grandfather wasn't boastful, Donald said he believes he was proud of his service during World War I.
"I know he kept all of his stuff," said Donald. "I can remember seeing his uniform and even his little doughboy helmet. The fact that he kept it hanging in the closet makes me think he obviously had some pride."
After pursuing his grandfather's award for two and a half years, Donald was notified by his wife that his grandfather's certificate, orders and Purple Heart had arrived to their Fort Leavenworth, Kan., home on June 18, 2010.
Donald said he would like to put his medal with the rest of his grandfather's Army-issued gear from World War I and frame the certificate. He is considering donating it to a museum.
Donald said he wants his grandfather to get recognition for his services and wants to make sure his grandfather isn't forgotten.
"I would hate that, after my generation, for it to just be stuck in a locker in an attic somewhere," said Donald. "There's a World War I museum in Kansas City. I would like to get it put in there."
More than 92 years after getting wounded, Cpl. Gus Bishop was rightfully awarded the Purple Heart, and thanks to his grandson's efforts, will forever be remembered as an American hero.
"It makes me proud that I could do that for him," said Donald. "It makes me happy to do it for my grandfather this many years later. It is pretty special."