Family of World War I vet gets dad's Purple Heart - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Family of World War I vet gets dad's Purple Heart

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"I want to thank you for everything you put together for me," Fred Demag said.

Demag was overcome by emotion as he prepared to receive his father's Purple Heart at the Vermont Statehouse.

Cpl. John H. Demag was posthumously awarded the medal for wounds he received in action Aug. 4, 1918, in France.

And 96 years after their father was shot and wounded in France in World War I, two of his eight children received the Purple Heart in his honor.

Reporter Julie Kelley: It wasn't until you were 79 that you really knew what he had been through.

Fred Demag: Oh yeah, I didn't know anything about it, his past in the Army. He wouldn't talk to us.

Instead, Cpl. Demag came home in 1919 and did what he loved. He started a trucking business and raised eight children.

"We're proud of him. He was a good dad. He was one of those that disciplined with the mouth, not with the hand. Which was a good thing. Except for me," daughter Flo Bovat laughed.

Search Cpl. John Demag and the first thing that comes up is World War I casualties. He was shot and wounded 96 years ago, but it was only nine months ago that his family learned what happened to him.

"My stepdaughter loves the Internet and that's where it all came out," Fred Demag said.

Discovering he earned a Purple Heart-- but his secret kept him from receiving it until now.

"What soldiers received in World War I was a wounded chevron and they wore it on their sleeve. And then in 1932 the Purple Heart was established and retroactively soldiers that were injured all the way back to April 5, 1917, could receive the Purple Heart," explained Maj. Gen. Steve Cray of the Vermont National Guard.

A representative from Sen. Bernie Sanders' office read a message to the family from the senator, "My sincerest congratulations on the issuance of the Purple Heart to your father."

Sanders' office helped make this day possible for Fred Demag and his family.

"I went to the senator's office and this young one here got me started and it came out perfect today!" Fred Demag said.

A perfect ending for a son who so clearly cherishes his father.

The family plans to keep the Purple Heart at the family homestead in the New North End.

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