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NEWS | Aug. 8, 2023

Purple Heart has meaningful ties to TYAD mission, workforce, history

By Mr. Nicolo Manzo

The Purple Heart serves as one of the starkest reminders of the tremendous sacrifice offered by members of the American Armed Forces throughout history. Dozens of past and present Tobyhanna employees have received a Purple Heart for their valor. This poignant decoration emblematic of the Army core values ties into Tobyhanna Army Depot’s (TYAD’s) history, informs our mission and inspires our workforce.

The military medal known today as the Purple Heart traces its roots back to August 7, 1782. It was on this date that George Washington established the Badge of Military Merit. This first badge came with a design of a “Figure of a Heart in Purple Cloth or Silk edged with narrow Lace or Binding.” Washington presented the award to three Army sergeants – the only known recipients for 150 years.

Following World War I, positive momentum built to bring the award back. A prominent figure in Tobyhanna Army Depot’s history, General (Gen.) Charles P. Summerall, sent a draft bill to Congress to “revive the Badge of Military Merit” on October 10, 1927, while serving as Army Chief of Staff.

In 1912, then-Major Summerall leased land on the current site of Tobyhanna Army Depot to train the 3rd Field Artillery unit of which he was commander. That lease began the long history of the Army’s presence in Tobyhanna.

Summerall’s petition was unsuccessful, but the next Army Chief of Staff Gen. Douglas MacArthur picked up where Summerall left off and was successful.

The medal as we know it today was announced on February 22, 1932. Although the qualifications and scope of the award have changed over time, the spirit of honoring wounded or killed servicemembers remains the same.

Tobyhanna Army Depot acknowledges the selflessness of the 64 past and present TYAD employees who have earned a Purple Heart. Team Tobyhanna proudly displays the names of those employees on a plaque on post. Members of Team Tobyhanna pride themselves each day on providing the best product to our nation’s warfighters. Through its work and steadfast commitment to mission, Team Tobyhanna honors the sacrifice of all Purple Heart recipients by maximizing the safety of current warfighters carrying on the tradition of excellence set forth by generations of service members.

Retired TYAD employee Richard Wren earned a Purple Heart during the Korean War when a grenade exploded near him, leaving his head wounded by shrapnel. Despite the injuries he incurred, Wren still sought to further serve his country through civilian work at TYAD. That example has led members of his family to offer service of their own through military and civilian channels.

TYAD 3rd Shift Superintendent Russell Wren knows firsthand the sacrifices made by Purple Heart recipients like his father.

“When I think of the Purple Heart, I immediately reflect on the sacrifices my father made throughout his life for his family, especially his willingness to risk his life for his country,” said Russell Wren.

Richard Wren’s grandson, TYAD Logistics Management Specialist Jacob Wren, said carrying on his family’s legacy of service in our nation’s armed forces, especially his grandfather’s, served as a chief motivating factor in his decision to serve his nation both in the military and as a member of the civilian workforce.

“I just wanted to make my grandfather proud – part of that was wanting to give back and join the military,” said Jacob Wren.

“My military service combined with my family’s legacy of service made me want to continue serving our nation through supporting the warfighter at Tobyhanna Army Depot.”

Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) Veteran's Council President Adam Chase admired the courage of Team Tobyhanna’s Purple Heart recipients.

“Many Tobyhanna employees have served in military capacities around the world in various conflicts and operations, in support of the American way. If only we could walk a mile in those boots, we might know what some have endured and the injuries to physical and mental health that they and their families may have suffered on that path,” said Chase.

Though several will be fortunate enough to never know the trauma of being wounded in combat because of the valor of our nation’s warfighters, Team Tobyhanna strives to make every day Purple Heart Day through our commitment to the ideals so many selflessly fought for and continue to fight for today.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, postproduction software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.

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