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August 13, 2014

Warren becomes state’s first ‘Purple Heart City’

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

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Warren Mayor Jim Fouts stood with seven Purple Heart recipients Aug. 7, including John Ciecko, far left, as the city raised a Purple Heart flag.

WARREN — Arno Whitbread, of Clinton Township, was fighting with the 101st Airborne Division when he was knocked unconscious and wounded by a shell that exploded behind him on a French road in February 1945.

Daniel Bowen, of Warren, was serving in the U.S. Army’s airborne infantry in Vietnam when he was wounded in March 1970.

John Ciecko, of Warren, was wounded six times in the 38 months he spent in Vietnam while he served in the United States Marine Corps.

“I was shot. I got hit by shrapnel. My legs, they’re gone,” Ciecko said. “I left them in Vietnam.”

All three men, and nearly two million other Americans wounded in combat zones around the world, are recipients of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The city of Warren officially became a “Purple Heart City” when it raised a flag in honor of the meritorious distinction on Aug. 7.

Ciecko, who represents Chapter #1818 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, initiated the request for designation on Warren’s behalf. He said Warren is the first city in Michigan to receive the designation.

“We’re very pleased with all Warren has done and all Mayor Fouts has done to recognize veterans over the years,” said Joe Didia, of Warren, who also represented Chapter #1818 at the ceremony and was twice wounded in 1967 while serving as a Marine in Vietnam. “This is just the icing on the cake.”

Fouts, who purchased the Purple Heart flag from the chapter, presented Ciecko with a special proclamation and called on other cities and townships — and the state of Michigan — to seek the designation.

“I think it’s one of the most important things we can do for our veterans, is to recognize those who paid the ultimate price and those who almost paid the ultimate price,” Fouts said.

Ciecko also presented Fouts with a plaque recognizing the distinction. The ceremony concluded with the raising of the Purple Heart flag in front of City Hall, north of 12 Mile Road and east of Van Dyke.