WWII Coast Guardsman receives Purple Heart

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Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Jensen pins a Purple Heart onto the chest of WWII Coast Guardsman Harry Milton Daube. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cindy Beckert)
USS Leopold at her launching in 1943. (U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph)

World War II Coast Guardsman Harry Milton Daube, 88, the last living survivor of the USS Leopold, was presented the Purple Heart by the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville on Friday.

More than 66 years ago, Coast Guard Seaman First Class Daube served on board the USS Leopold, an 306-foot Coast Guard-manned Edsall class destroyer, on escort duty between the United States and Europe during World War II.

On March 9, 1944, Leopold was struck by a torpedo from a German U-boat while escorting a 27-ship convoy off the coast of Iceland.

Harry Daube with his Purple Heart. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cindy Beckert)

All of the Leopold’s 13 officers and 158 of her complement of 186 enlisted men were lost. There were only 28 survivors, all enlisted men. Daube and the 27 other survivors waited on a life raft to be rescued after the Leopold split into two pieces and eventually sank.

After his return to the United States, Daube continued to serve in the Coast Guard, in New York, until the end of World War II.

Daube accepted the Purple Heart in company of close friends and a few local Coast Guardsmen.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first American award made available to the common soldier. The Purple Heart was established by Gen. George Washington in Newburgh, N.Y., Aug. 7, 1782. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president of the United States to any member of an armed force or any civilian national of the United States who has been wounded or killed in action.

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