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After Decades of Waiting, World War II Veteran to Receive Purple Heart

At Rounds’ request, Sylvan Vigness of Flandreau to receive Purple Heart 73 years after U.S.S. Hinsdale attack in Pacific Theater

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Senate Armed Services Committees, today announced that Sylvan Vigness of Flandreau, S.D., will receive the Purple Heart Medal for his service in World War II. Vigness and his family have been seeking to obtain the Purple Heart for two decades, but were denied every time. 

“It is an honor to help Mr. Vigness obtain his Purple Heart Medal, especially knowing how many years he and his family spent seeking to obtain it,” said Rounds. “Mr. Vigness is a hero who bravely served our country during World War II, where he suffered an eye injury during a kamikaze attack onboard the U.S.S. Hinsdale on April 1, 1945. He is deserving of this honor, and my only wish is that he could have been recognized for his service and the injuries he sustained earlier. We are forever thankful to Mr. Vigness for the sacrifices he made to defend our country.”

The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to members of the armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy. Mr. Vigness was injured by shrapnel onboard the U.S.S. Hinsdale in a kamikaze attack during the Battle of Iwo Jima on April 1, 1945. His family spent two decades working with previous congressional offices in an attempt to obtain the Purple Heart, but were denied time and again. The case was brought to Rounds’ attention last year, and he felt strongly that Mr. Vigness should be awarded the Purple Heart. After talking firsthand to the Secretary of the Navy, Rounds was able to help Mr. Vigness successfully obtain his Purple Heart Medal, 73 years after the attack on the U.S.S. Hinsdale. 

An award ceremony honoring Mr. Vigness and his family will be scheduled as soon as practicable, likely within the next week. We will share that information with you as soon as a date is scheduled.