Fifty-six years after Glenn O. Neill was struck in the face by a piece of shrapnel on a battlefield in Italy during World War II, he has received a Purple Heart, a medal he thought was reserved for those with "million dollar injuries like losing an arm or a leg."
With help of Don Vaughn, Imperial County veterans' services officer, 79-year-old Neill was presented his Purple Heart while a patient at El Centro Regional Medical Center awaiting transfer to Valley Convalescent Home in El Centro.
Neill, who has been a patient at ECRMC since suffering a stroke July 18, told friends he never pressed to get the Purple Heart because he thought his wartime injuries weren't serious enough to warrant it.
The battle in which he was injured — Neill says he was lucky not to be more seriously hurt as the shrapnel just missed his eye — earned him a Bronze Star at the time. He also holds a Victory Medal, an American Campaign Medal, a European-African Campaign Medal and a distinguished unit badge.