Purple Heart

My dad(Russell F. Coash) was an observer/pilot in World War 1 (1917-1918) and was in a motor launch with five other sailors off the coast of France and was dispatched out to sea to rescue a downed American pilot. In so doing they came under shelling from a German coastal battery and had to jump into the sea with only a seat cushion as a flotation device. As it turned out 2 sailors were killed-2 were captured by the Germans and my dad and another sailor floated many hours out in the ocean. A shell lit beside my dad and blew him 50 feet into the air as witnessed by the other sailor(Revilo Bailey). Bailey swam to shore and dad was too weak to swim. 2 British soldiers saw dad about a 1000 yards from shore. Next they shed their clothes and swam out to dad and brought him into shore and dragged him to a dugout,nursed him and got him to a field hospital where he received care and was returned to his unit at Dunkirk,France.

For the rest of his life he had severe back pain and the VA did an x-ray on him and found a bone fragment had broken off of his spine and lodged in his flesh in the L2-L3 lumbar area and for some reason or another was never removed. He died in 1959 when I was a senior in high school.

I tried on 2 different occasions to get him the Purple Heart but was denied because some medical officer put on his record "Submersion-Non Fatal,Swam Ashore". I have British documentation confirming the 2 British soldiers received an award for rescuing my dad! I even got my governor and senator involved but to no avail!

A book has been written about my dad. "MY NAVY CROSS, SOMETHING I AM NOT PROUD OF'. It is on Amazon.com and authored by my brother,Ron Coash. He was awarded the Navy Cross for "Seriously damaging a German Submarine" by releasing a bomb from his airplane. His Navy uniform, medals and other memorabilia he brought back from the war is on display at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka, Ks.

I have documentation to support this article as my brother Ron and I obtained them from The National Archives,VA and Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Submitted by Duane Coash, son of Russell F. Coash

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