I missed posting this on Veteran’s Day, but this man was in my thoughts. I had never met anyone awarded a Purple Heart until I met Carl Mankey. It was pretty exciting, even though Mr. Mankey is a humble man. He and his wife invited me into their home for the interview for Senior Living Magazine and I felt at home. It was an honor to meet Mr. Mankey and hear about his episodes in Asia fighting for freedom. The article was published recently in the Bluffton (IN) News-Banner.
Do a good thing today and contact a WWII vet and tell them you’re thankful for their service. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it and you’ll be blessed.
Carl Mankey of Craigville, Indiana, has been awarded two Purple Heart medals from WWII.
The prestigious Purple Heart medals are military awards given to men and women wounded or killed in combat against the enemy. The history of the Purple Heart goes back to General George Washington who in 1782 first awarded a medal for meritorious service, regardless of rank, to three soldiers. For the next 150 years the award fell out of popularity but was revived by General Douglas MacArthur when he announced the creation of a new medal on February 22, 1932. That date coincided with the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. In honor of the Father of our Country and the man who established our military’s first medal, the Purple Heart bears the profile of Washington on its face.
Born in 1923, Mankey joined the Marine Corps in 1943 at age 19. Why join the Marines? “I figured the Marines were the toughest soldiers,” he said.
During the next three years, Private First Class Mankey, who was employed as a truck driver prior to joining the military, showed his mettle as a soldier several times. After training in San Diego and New Zealand, he fought in Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian – all part of the Marianas Islands where the fighting was intense. The skirmishes on the small island of Tarawa were especially fierce. “We heard the number of soldiers who died there per mile was worse than anywhere else,” said Mankey.
In November 1943 Mankey was hit by a bomb while fighting on Tarawa. Concussed, he recuperated in a Hawaiian hospital for four months, then returned to fight. In June 1944 Mankey was again injured, this time in Saipan, when a bullet ricocheted off his rifle, removing the end of his nose. He recuperated at a hospital in Saipan before again returning to fight on that island.
In August 1945, Mankey led 20 men from his platoon up a mountain in an attempt to destroy a machine gun nest. Despite heavy enemy fire from four machine guns, Mankey moved into the open to shoot at the nest with his rifle. He also threw grenades. Later, Mankey returned to the machine gun nest, completely destroying it.
Upon being discharged in August 1945, Mankey was awarded two Purple Hearts. In actuality, Mankey received one Purple Heart and one Gold Star in lieu of the second Purple Heart, according to the Marines’ policy. He also received a Silver Star medal for showing gallant conduct, ‘in keeping with the highest tradition of the US Naval Service’ and a bronze star for service in Asiatic-Pacific area and a Victory Medal for WWII.
After the war, Mankey returned to his hometown. In 1947 he married and during the next few years he and his wife Dolores became parents to six children. Today, they have 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In summer 2011, at the age of 88, Mankey participated in an Honor Flight, a free trip to the nation’s capital offered to WWII veterans by volunteers to thank them for their military service. The one-day tour includes free airfare to Washington and tours of various war memorials. Mankey made the trip with his grandson Ryan Morgan who served as a companion to assist his grandfather.
Mankey has this to say about his three years of island-hopping in defense of his nation’s freedoms, “It was a heck of an experience.” His support for today’s American military and its work overseas is unequivocal. “We’re needed over there,” he said.