VIDEO: Vet Receives Purple Heart, 68 Years Later

Gale L. Fuller was one of only 28 survivors of 199 aboard the U.S.S. Leopold when it was torpedoed and sank on March 9, 1944.

Gale L. Fuller, a retired member of the Coast Guard and World War II veteran, was finally honored with a Purple Heart on the 68th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S Leopold.

Fuller was one of only 28 survivors of the 199 aboard the Leopold after it sank on March 9, 1944. He survived the Arctic waters off the coast of Iceland, while most of his shipmates' lives were claimed by hypothermia.

The Leopold was a destroyer escort manned by the Coast Guard to deliver men and material to England. 

After the Leopold was torpedoed by a German submarine, the order came to abandon ship. As the men crowded into small life rafts in the icy water, a storm blew the waves over them. The Coast Guardsmen could be seen by the U.S.S. Joyce, which had dropped behind for rescue work. However, the German U-boat was firing torpedoes at the Joyce, and it couldn't stop to pick the men up.

The Joyce returned in the morning to rescue the 28 survivors.

Later, Fuller pressured his command to get back into the fight and was transferred to the USCGC Spencer. He returned to Minnetsota after discharge from the Coast Guard in March 1946.

Fuller was awarded the Purple Heart at a well-attended ceremony on Friday, March 9 at the

Mary Bodtke April 07, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Congratulations to Mr Fuller. This is a well deserved honor. My father was also one of the survivors of the USS Leopold, Roger Foecke of Grand Rapids, MI. He passed away 30 years ago. I'm happy to hear that the survivors that remain are finally getting recognized for their heroic efforts. Mary Bodtke Westland, MI


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