Remembering Corporal Frank Humes: Purple Heart returned to the Magnolia, NJ family after a nine-month search

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MAGNOLIA, NJ (WPVI) — Corporal Frank Humes’ Purple Heart has crossed several continents and passed through different hands over several decades. But now he has finally returned home.

Frank was drafted into the US Army in November 1968. He was just 19 years old. He served as a sniper for the long range reconnaissance patrol. His destination: Vietnam.

Frank went on a three-way LRRP mission and was inserted into Vietnam via rope ladders.

“The day he died they had been inserted into an area where there was a Viet Cong battalion. As soon as they hit the ground they were in a firefight, Frank’s brother William said.

Frank was shot in the back of the neck. He received two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and two Bronze Star Medals.

William said he never learned the actual details of his brother’s death until a 2002 meeting with the other members of Frank’s service. It was then that he was blown away by two of Frank’s teammates, including Larry Flanagan.

“I felt a connection with them,” Williams said. “They were talking about him like he was their brother, so I gave him back – I gave them the Purple Hearts.”

Larry Flanagan died in October 2021 of pulmonary fibrosis, likely related to Agent Orange exposure. When his daughter discovered the Purple Heart among her belongings, she knew it wasn’t her father’s. So she called John Duffy who served with both Frank and Larry.

“Purple Heart means a lot,” said John Duffy, a Vietnam War veteran from Quincey, Mass. “You can’t just drop these things. You either have to give it to the person or the family. Later I’ll find it.”

And nine months later, he finds William. John drove six hours to return the Purple Heart in person.

“It’s real brotherhood,” Humes said. “A real brotherhood. He could have just mailed it, but he drove it. So that says it all.”

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