Sixty-three years after serving in the Korean War, a Sioux Falls man is getting the recognition he deserves. Thanks to family, friends and fellow soldiers, 91-year-old Army Pvt. Eugene Coyle received a Purple Heart at the Sioux Falls V.A. Hospital.
"This has been long overdue and very well-deserved award for Pvt. Eugene Coyle. We're grateful for your service, sir," Senator John Thune said.
Wednesday was a very special day for Eugene Coyle.
"I've heard it said, 'the great soldier runs to the sounds of the guns'. When he and his unit were under attack, under hostile fire, he helped rescue others and carried on the great tradition of the U.S. Army," Senator Thune said
Many friends, family and members of the community gathered to witness the moment Coyle received America's oldest military decoration.
"I wasn't in the big one. If you were in WW2, you were in the big one. Korea wasn't that big a war but if you were in it, it seemed big... the rifle fire was the same," Eugene Coyle said.
Senator Thune said the military is particular about giving out the rare honor, a Purple Heart, years after service.
"Every story is different and every story is unique, Sometimes they have to go back and find guys he served with, which was the case here. They found some of Eugene's buddies and people he served with were able to provide corroborating testimony. As a result, the Army came to the right conclusion that this guy deserves a purple heart," Senator Thune said.
Though, Senator Thune says it's an honor to help the nation and South Dakota recognize him for what he did.
"This is a chapter of his life they needed to have bring to conclusion. It's a story that needed to be told. I'm glad there's some conclusion to that," Senator Thune said.
Coyle was injured in Korea and sent to a hospital in Japan before he was brought home to begin recovery in Sioux Falls.
In addition to the Purple Heart, Coyle received the United Nations Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal for Korea, the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge.