28 Purple Hearts to be awarded posthumously in N.H.
CONCORD, N.H. — Jennie Laleme remembers how handsome her older brother was and how much he loved to sing, especially the old cowboy classic “Mule Train.’’
Herbert Hesseltine of Littleton — everyone called him “Herbie’’ — joined the Army and fought in the Korean War. On her 11th birthday, Nov. 30, 1950, Laleme had just come home from skating when she learned that he had been taken captive and was in a POW camp.
“It was the first time I saw my father cry and I’ll never forget it,’’ said Laleme, now of Landaff. A few months later, the family learned that Herbie had died. He was 19.
Years later, Hesseltine is among the 28 New Hampshire prisoners of war who died in captivity and now are being honored with posthumous Purple Hearts. Sixteen of the soldiers served in World War II, and 12 in the Korean War.
The state chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War, led by World War II veteran and former POW Allan Gavan, has identified 61 New Hampshire POWs who died in service to their country and are eligible for the Purple Heart. The group has been working to find the next of kin for all of the soldiers, as is required by the military to award service medals posthumously.
The entire New Hampshire delegation — US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Judd Gregg and US Representatives Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter — has been working with the appropriate military branches to determine eligibility for the awards.
They released a joint announcement yesterday about finding the next of kin for the 28 soldiers.
“We are determined to continue our work until all New Hampshire men who died as POWs and their families have been appropriately recognized for their sacrifices,’’ Gavan said.
Hesseltine was the second oldest of six siblings; four remain. Laleme, 71, said she and other members of the family are planning to attend a medal ceremony honoring the group Saturday at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen.
“I told Gavan what a wonderful thing they were doing for our guys that were lost,’’ she said.
The other soldiers are: Wesley Ash and John Francis Ryder, Merrimack County; Francis Ashey, Lebanon; Philip Botsford, Lyndeborough; Herbert Brokenshire, Winchester; Madison Charles, Coos County; Robert Chase, Strafford County; John Cuss, Alton; Myron Dick, Durham; Gerlad Dubay, Rockingham County; Leland Dunham and Alfred Sidney, Littleton; Houston Edwards, Portsmouth; Reginald Frazier, East Swanzey; Burt Gay, New London; Joseph St. Laurent, Keene; Harry Leighton, Rochester; Elliott Lund and Roland Maynard, Hillsborough; William Marston, Concord; Patrick McLaughlin and James Picard, Hillsborough County; Joseph Pelletier, Berlin; Elmer Richard, Exeter; Frederick Stearns, Cheshire County; Joseph Sullivan, Straford; and Aurel Tremblay, Nashua.