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Dotson's Purple Heart
purple heart

The ORDER of the PURPLE HEART for MILITARY MERIT, commonly called "The Purple Heart", is an American decoration - the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first award made available to the common soldier, without regard to rank. It was created by one of the world's most famed heroes - General George Washington.

The ORDER of the PURPLE HEART is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is definitely a combat decoration.




big red one patch

First Army, 1st Division, 16th Infantry, Company "G"
KIA, November 20, 1944, Aachen, Germany


"All gave some, some gave all. Some stood through for the red white and blue, some had to fall."
So, if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all.

"Our Daddy"

Our daddy was born in Cullman County, Alabama on March 17, 1917.  He was the youngest of 4 brothers and 2 sisters.  They later moved to Birmingham, Alabama and that is where he met my mother.  They were married in Jan. 1940 and I was born in September, 1940.  My sister was born in December, 1942.  I remember going to work and to church with my daddy and my grandmother.  He was VERY proud of his two daughters!!

He was drafted on March 22, 1944, at Draft Board 8.  He was sent to Ft. McClellan, Anniston, Alabama
for 17 weeks of basic training.   That was about 60 miles from Birmingham, where we lived.  We got to see him several times during that period, and a few times he left to come visit us without permission.  One of those times was when my sister was very sick with the chicken pox and had a fever of 106.  His leave was turned down by the Red Cross, but he managed to come home for a few hours, anyway.  He was a very loving and devoted father and husband.

After being away for the 17 weeks of basic training he only had 10 days of home leave before he was sent overseas.  He left in September, 1944, sent to Fort Mead, MD, then port of embarkation being New York.  His ship landed in Scotland.  He finally ended up in Germany where he was with the 1st Army, 1st Division, 16th Infantry, Company "G". This was called the "Bloody Red" under General Hodges.

Our daddy had never even handled a rifle before going into the Army.  There, he was given a M1 rifle.  In Aachen, Germany he was sent into action once, came back saying that it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be.  The next time he was sent out ------ he didn't come back.  The shelling was so intense that no one could get to him.  Two soldiers later told our family that he was in or near a foxhole and it was a very fierce battle!  When they finally could get to him it was too late.  They said  his last words were "Tell Mama not to grieve and tell my wife that I love her".  This happened on November 20, 1944.  I remember the "yellow letter" (telegram) that my mother received, delivered by Western Union, late at night, in December, 1944. The "yellow letter" became known as "The Telegram",  the thing most feared by loved ones of those overseas fighting for their country

"The Telegram"

The Secretary Of War desires me to express his deep regret that your husband
PVT James D. Duke was killed in action in Germany 20 Nov 44

Confirming Letter Follows

Confirming Letter

He was buried in Belgium, Henri Chappelle, and his grave was "adopted" by a Belgium family. They took care of it & placed flowers there.  Three years later in November, 1947, his body was shipped back to the United States to be reburied in Elmwood Cemetery, in Birmingham, Alabama.

My sister and I feel fortunate that he was such a loving father and husband!  Our mother and other family members never hesitated to talk about him or answer our questions.  In later years, I asked my mother to tell me as much as she could about my daddy. She gave me most of the of the statistics noted above, along with Army papers, his Purple Heart , and other personal possessions.

A few years ago I (Jamie) became aware of a wonderful organization called AWON - American WWII Orphans Network. As a result, I have received even more records and information about my dad.

I attended the Memorial Ceremony organized by No Greater Love in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 8, 1991 and that was the first time that I ever met others whose dads were killed in WWII.  I later went to a gathering in Warner-Robbins, Georgia.  There I met others who had also been to the Washington ceremony.  I am privileged to be in contact with Annie Mix , the founder of AWON, and other AWON members and that we can share facts and our emotions about our fathers.

My mother never did remarry and she did her very best over the years raising two daughters alone. We know that it was a hardship financially with only the income she received due to our father's death.

My mother had wonderful memories of our dad, and my sister and I have wonderful memories of him because of her.

The Purple Heart
Richard H. Duckwell

Once upon a time when most of us had died
A soldier at the judgment seat applied
"Show Me", the stern one said,
"Some proof that you are choice among the dead.
Some saintly act; some holy skill or kindly art".
The soldier replied,
"Only this, Oh Magistrate, Oh King, Oh God;
My life's blood for my country stained the sod
For proof...I have this Purple Heart"
He gazed long at it, the King, all mankind's mentor
Then nodding, softly whispered..."ENTER"

"Those who have long enjoyed such
privileges as we enjoy forget in time
that men have died to win them."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt


"My Thoughts"
by Madelyn
February 18, 1999

In the past few years Jamie has told me many, many times about AWON but I was just not interested in knowing more.  After all, our father died a long time ago and I don't remember him so why dredge things up...what's the point in it.  However, I do know that growing up without a father has affected me in lots of ways, ways I never even realized until recently.  But that's another story. Click here for "An Interesting Observation" concerning the Rorshach Inkblot test.

  In my bedroom I have a triple picture frame on my dresser. It has a picture of me at about age 3 on the left...a picture of Jamie at about age 5 on the right...and a picture of our father in uniform in the middle.


While working on this page I find myself just staring at that picture of my father, the same picture that has been in a frame on my dresser for years. I couldn't begin to guess how many times I have looked at it or moved it out of the way while dusting etc. It was just a picture. Suddenly it was not just a picture...suddenly it was my father...and suddenly I wanted to know him. Now, I really notice his eyes and his his smile, and so wish I could remember him. Jamie mentioned that we have wonderful memories of our father because of things we were told by our mother and those that knew him and that is true. But although vague, Jamie at least has some real memories of him.

I can remember as a child looking through the bottom drawer of my mother's dresser. In the drawer were the letters from my father to my mother, his purple heart, his wallet, and the American flag that was draped over his coffin. There were other things in there too but I don't remember now what they were.  I read the letters and looked through his wallet.  But that was a long time ago and now I just have a vague recollection of doing it.  My sister has most everything that was his and I asked her about the letters and the wallet.  She said our mother finally burned them because they were "depressing".   I was so disappointed because it would mean so much to me to read the letters and see my father's real words in his own handwriting

Our father was killed in November of 1944 and the only thing that I can truly remember was about a month later.  One night right before Christmas, some men in military uniform knocked on our door. They had presents with them. My birthday is December 21st so I was barely two years old and I was excited to see all the presents and toys.  Of course I had no idea why these were being brought to us from the men in uniform.  I remember one toy in particular. I do think it was an odd thing to give to two little girls especially during war time, but it was our favorite toy and I even remember my sister and I "fighting" over it.  It was a toy metal Army tank that shot marbles. That sounds dangerous, but actually as I remember, the marbles didn't really "shoot" out...they sort of just "plopped" out and didn't go very far. But Jamie and I thought it was so cool.

I feel now as if I DO know my father. I look at his pictures and his smile and they are not just pictures anymore.  The one where he is in uniform, standing next to my mother, and he is holding me in his arms looking at me, I can see that he loves me. And I love him too.

Photo Album

eternal flame
Those who were left behind also became casualites of war

In a letter to his mother dated October, 1944, Daddy wrote:

"I'm like Sgt. York; remember what he told his mama when he left. 'I'll be a coming back!' I will too.
I know it won't be easy but, there's several million more boys' over there. I hope I won't have to stay too long.
I don't want you to worry, Mama. Take good care of yourself so we can have a good time when I come back.
I'd hate for the children to forget me. Maybe it'll be over before so long."


Daddy, we have not forgotten you.


This next letter shows the character of our father, the brave soldier, and the loving husband and father who was missing his wife and children.

Sunday Eve.

Dearest Grace,

I didn't get this letter mailed so I'm dropping this in too.
I'm writing this from outside my foxhole. Things are a little quiet now. Hope you are having a nice quiet Sunday afternoon. Sure would like to be there with you.
It's about 4'oclock here so that makes about 10 o'clock back home. I hope you all are getting ready to go to church. I sure will be glad when I can go to church with you. I'm always comparing my time to yours and wondering what you are doing. When it's getting dark here, it's about 12 o'clock there.
I love you, my Darling. Give the children my love. Be brave and don't worry. I have faith in the Lord.
Your Loving Husband,

Page created in remembrance of their father
Jamie and Madelyn

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If you knew our father, and can tell us anything about him, please email us

How to find information and tell your father's World War II Story


National WW II Memorial Washington, D.C.
Honor members of World War II by enrolling them in the World War II Registry.
Search for currently enrolled honorees, or enroll a family member or friend WWII Registry

Are you looking for a veteran?
Photo registry and military locator links.
Photo Registry

The Military Order of the Purple Heart
The Military Order of the Purple Heart


No Greater Love is the only non-political, non-profit, humanitarian organization in the United States solely dedicated to provide annual programs of remembrance, friendship and care for families who lost a loved one in service to our country.
Proud To Remember

We Are Very Proud To Display Our Awards

March 1999

May 1999

Airborne Mine Countermeasures Association
March 1st 2000

America's Forgotten Heroes

America's war dogs were trained to recognize booby traps, mines, tunnels and weapons caches. They warned troops about ambushes. They saved lives by dragging wounded soldiers to safety.

America's war dogs prevented over 10,000 casualties in Vietnam alone and bravely served our country in Operation  Desert Storm as well as WWII. Yet, many of these canine heroes were declared "surplus armaments" either euthanised or left to unknown fates

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