Ben Atchley Veterans Home Founder Honored on the 58th Anniversary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart

Order of the Purple Heart Honoree former PFC Gerald Clark USA, Battle of the Bulge survivor, wife Bea (purple dress), daughter Karen Orr and Bea’s brother William Green at post ceremony interview.

PFC Gerald Clark’s first action, after arriving in WW II 1944 Europe, was the Battle of the Bulge! He was with the 75th Infantry Division who stopped the German advance. As a man of faith he thanks the Lord for Patton’s prayer, which influenced the weather improving. When the weather cleared a vast array of fighters, bombers and transports filled the sky. He was stunned by what he saw. Just before that the cloud ceiling was about as high as our room’s ceiling. After the German’s stopped they moved South near Nancy France, where they became isolated and surrounded. They surrendered. The 75th then moved North to Holland then crossed the Rhine River into Germany. They met the Russians on the Elbe River during that time. Gerald was wounded during a mine sweeping operation North of Dusseldorf. Around midnight he and 3 members of the 3rd Army were ordered to clear mines in anticipation of coming operations. When his two companions began using their mine sweepers ahead, he had just situated himself in the right rear seat of the jeep. The Jeep hit an anti tank mine. He was throw up in the air and recalled hearing something like “ripping sounds” on that night in April, 1945. He also remembers seeing the color red. “Its by the Grace of God I’m talking with you”, he said. After two operations lost his right leg right up to his hip. We then talked about his “shell shock”, which is how post traumatic stress was defined in WW II. His faith allowed him to move through all the anxiety, conflicted feelings and survivor shame to being a good and decent family man. He developed a sense of purpose by helping fellow vets, which why both Mayor Burchett and Capt. Buswell commended his work establishing the Ben Atchley State Veterans Home. Today all veterans commend Gerald Clark for his courage today. Let’s salute his wife Bea of 70 years, their daughter Karen Orr and Mr. William Green, Bea’s brother, for their incredible support of Gerald and his work.

Col. Melvin Dean Schiller USA Ret. and wife Ceree. They were an important part of 58th Order of the Purple Heart Celebration held at the Sherill Hills Retirement Cpmmunity in Knoxville.

Col. Schiller, USA Ret. served in WW II with the 10th Mountain Division.  When the Korean War broke out, he wound up defending the Pusan Peninsula without adequate equipment and weapons.  In the beginning, it appeared to be a suicide mission.  In the spirit of American arms they held till reinforcement reversed the situation.  He later served as an advisor in Thailand with their forces and U.S. Special Operations.  He also worked with the Air Commandos I later served with in Vietnam.  His vast experience in three wars covering a 30 year career was too much for our limited space in this article. Col. Schiller was seriously wounded.  A round passed through his head, spun around inside his helmet and exited into and through his upper body.  He suffered four wounds with one hit.  Many of these service experiences leave me stunned. Look for Col. Schiller’s and Ceree’s story in a later issue.

Army Veteran Scotty Dunford visits with former dental patient Mayor Tim Burchett

Mayor Tim Burchett has done more for veterans than any other elected official. He makes all the difference to our families. His declaration of August 26 as Gerald Clark Day illustrates my point.

Honoree Gerald Clark is Chapter Finance Officer. His chapter commander is Charles D. Caldwell (865) 494-8059, 237 Foster Rd., Heiskell, TN 37754-3004, Adjutant: Bradley Walker (865) 548-4761, 1712 Guy Street, White Pine, TN 37890-3633

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