Two Purple Hearts

Veteran: Alan Love
Artist / WriterPat Walsh 

A Battalion size force of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) overran the airstrip at Base Camp Oasis. Spc/4 Alan Love, 1st Cavalry Division, ran to his assigned shelter and found it demolished by a rocket with everyone inside killed. Unarmed and under fire, he ran to the motor pool and picked up a rifle and started firing back. The rifle had no barrel protection and heated up, burning his hand as he fired. After a ferocious firefight the base and airfield were taken back. 

Twelve Americans were killed, three were taken prisoner by the NVA and scores of the marauding NVA troops lay dead and wounded on the airstrip.Alan had participated in many patrols, had been ambushed several times and had even crawled through VC tunnels looking for the enemy, which earned him the Combat Infantry Badge. While assigned to drive an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) that carried eleven men inside with six more riding on top, Alan was wounded in his right arm and the vehicle’s radiator blew up causing burns to the side of his body.

For this he was awarded The Purple Heart Medal.

On another night on patrol, Alan’s APC and another one took heavy fire from an NVA ambush. A NVA soldier was behind one of the giant termite mounds prevalent in Viet Nam. Just as the enemy was preparing to fire his rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at them, Alan ran over the mound, demolishing it and crushing the NVA soldier. But the rocket had already been released and penetrated the only unarmored part of the APC, a small plywood door used to check the engine. Shrapnel came through the engine compartment and wounded seven men including Alan, who was hit in the stomach, upper body and left arm.

Alan was evacuated to a hospital in Japan but the severity of his wounds required that he be sent back to Fort Ord, California.

For these wounds, Alan Love was awarded his second Purple Heart. Promoted to Sergeant, this experienced combat soldier finished his enlistment as a drill instructor training recruits for combat.

The Purple Heart medal is awarded only to those who were killed or wounded in contact with an enemy in combat. It is the oldest medal for American Armed Forces, established by General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.

The medal is heart shaped and bears a likeness of General Washington embossed in gold on a purple background and hangs from a Purple and White ribbon.