On 24 July, the Purple Hearts of two fallen World War II soldiers, were returned home thanks to a non-profit organization called Purple Hearts Reunited. The Purple Hearts belonged to Pfc. James Thomas Hull and Pvt. Joseph Eugene “Gene” Bone.
Pfc. James Thomas Hull, born on January 24, 1919 in Moulton, Texas enlisted in the Army in November 1940 and served with “L” Company, 141st Infantry Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division. During the first amphibious assault by an US Division on European soil near Salerno (Italy) on 9 September 1943, he was killed in action and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
Hull’s Purple Heart was discovered several years ago in Highland, California by a resident who was cleaning out a home. The resident contacted a member of the local American Legion post, who at their turn, reached out to PHR. And now at last, the Purple Heart, was presented during an emotional ceremony to retired Sgt. Maj. Cecil Hull, James T. Hull’s last surviving brother and a recipient of the Purple Heart himself.
In order to preserve the medal, Hull’s family donated it to the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard. Division Commander, Maj. Gen. Lester Simpson, Division Commander, said “I’m happy to be here to accept the medal that represents your brother’s service and sacrifice, and appreciate the work that Purple Hearts Reunited does to get these back to the families. We’re certainly happy to have these medals back home.”
The second Purple Heart, belonged to Pvt. Joseph Eugene “Gene” Bone, who was born August 19, 1920 in Taylor County. Enlisted in April, 1943 and served with the 143rd Infantry Regiment, another unit of the 36th Infantry Division. Pvt. Bone fell on February 7, 1944 as the division attempted to secure a bridgehead across the Rapido River and is buried at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy.
His medal was found, in Jan. 2014, by veteran Gariel Burchett while cleaning out his mother-in-law’s home. Sadly, family of Pvt. Bone’s is no longer living to return it to, and it will therefor be placed on the wall in the Division headquarters of the 36th Infantry Division next to the medal of Pfc. James T. Hull.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mitchell Bell of the PHR Valor Guard said “These men joined the same unit and fought in the battle of Salerno. Pfc. Hull gave his life on that beach while attacking the Germans. Pvt. Bone survived another four months and died while fighting to cross a river. They sacrificed in the final act of their military career. They died in service to their country.”