Martin C. Evans

Replacement medal granted to VFW commander who donated his to slain vet

In Awards on December 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Ssg. Keith R. Bishop, killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash, was denied the Purple Heart.

A VFW post commander who donated his Purple Heart medal so that a Green Beret killed in Afghanistan would not have to be buried without one will get his replaced, thanks to Suffolk County N.Y. Executive Steve Levy.

Army officials had decided against awarding the Purple Heart to Staff Sergeant Keith Bishop, of Medford N.Y., saying the helicopter crash that killed him Oct. 26 was not due to enemy action – a requirement for the medal.

Bruce Brenner, Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1469, in Huntington N.Y., heard of the disappointment the ruling caused Bishop’s family as they were making funeral plans, and offered to give them the Purple Heart he earned in Vietnam.

Bishop’s family buried him with the medal pinned to his chest.

“My mother was really agitated by the technicality of the matter,” said Bishop’s brother, Stephen Bishop, of Middle Island, NY. “This was a kind act.”

Bishop was killed when the helicopter in which he was riding crashed during a drug interdiction mission in western Afghanistan. He was buried Nov. 9 at Calverton National Cemetery.

Levy plans to give Brenner a replacement medal at a ceremony Monday at the County Executive’s offices in Hauppauge.

Stephen Bishop said Brenner’s generosity was particularly comforting because it allowed his family to include the medal in the burial.

“This means more to us coming from Bruce than it would coming from the Army,” Bishop said.

Brenner earned the Purple Heart in 1970,  when he was hit by shrapnel near the Cambodian border.

“I just thought about the family, the mother,” Brenner said. “It was a pleasure for me to do it. It was a gift from one soldier to another.

  1. what M. Brenner did was remarkable, that being said, the role that the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency payed in this situation should not be forgotten

  2. As I understand it, Brenner heard of the family’s disappointment from the Suffolk Veterans Services director, who is a friend, and responded. Is there more?

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