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Hometown Hero

Bill Crislip


Bill Crislip holding a photo of himself and a buddy taken during the Korean War. 

Purple Heart Award

Sgt. Major, Bill Crislip and wife, Ginny,
and Major General

(The following is an article by Ann Lemaster-Applegate that appeared in The Paintsville Herald.  Copyright 2002)

William “Bill” Crislip was born in Johnson County, the son of Fred Crislip and Rosalee McKenzie, however the only mom Bill ever knew was his stepmother, Samantha Lemaster Crislip. He left Johnson County in  1952 when he went into the Army from local board # 49.

Bill Crislip came home from the Korean War empty handed. He was given no official recognition for his time served, or for the wounds he received during combat in 1952 that hospitalized him for nearly two months. After his release from the hospital, Bill’s wounds prevented him from going back to the front. His new assignment was to a postal unit. In 1954, he received an honorable discharge.

Bill married Virginia Reed who was born in Southern Illinois and then moved to Michigan when she was eleven years old. After many years, Bill and Virginia moved near the small community of Grant, Alabama where Bill became friends with Don Dixon.

Wanting his friend to have the award he greatly deserved, Don and his wife, Melinda, began the process of securing the Purple Heart Award for Bill. The entire process would take eight months. The results would last a lifetime.

Nearly five decades after serving in the Korean War, military officials awarded an unsuspecting Bill with his Purple Heart on March 10, 2002; during what Bill thought would be a regular church service. It was a day he will never forget.

Bill’s sister, Malta Crislip Ross, and I met several years ago at a Lemaster reunion we attended and I hope to meet Bill this summer while he is visiting in Johnson County. Malta and sister, Edna Faye Crislip Grim, still reside in Johnson County, while another sister, Maye lives in Ohio.

Purple Heart

By Korean Veteran,
S/Sgt. James G. Harris, U.S. Army

There is a time in some men's lives
their country calls in time of war,
and asked to heed what they deplore.
These gallant men who fight with pride
with pain that lives and dies inside.
They place their lives in danger's way
to face the enemy each day.
Some wounds severe with loss of limb
while some will heal and try again.
To suffer wounds with death at hand
to fight a war in many lands.
They do their duty and beyond
they're swift to act and to respond.
They shed their blood, some live, some die
to keep OLD GLORY flying high.
Their children cry, their widows weep,
the blood that's shed runs very deep.
They live with pain for many years
and suffer stress that brings the tears.

we give, with thanks, THE PURPLE HEART.



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