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Old 06-11-2007, 02:23 AM
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Former Marine to Receive Replacement Purple Heart

FdL veteran to receive replacement Purple Heart

By The Reporter

Fond du Lac's Marcel Bisson, an 82-year-old World War II veteran who survived the horrific 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima, is getting a replacement Purple Heart.

Seriously wounded by mortar shells 12 days into the battle, the Marine Corps infantry gunner earned the prestigious military medal for his heroic efforts during the famous battle on the volcanic island that left 7,000 U.S. Marines and 20,000 Japanese dead.

Bisson served as a machine gunner and told his story of what happened for the first time to The Reporter for an article that ran Feb. 23 in honor of the 62nd anniversary of Iwo Jima.

When Bisson's nephew Jerry Feustel of Sheboygan heard how his uncle's Purple Heart was lost when his parents moved off a family farm, he decided to do something about it.

After contacting Sheboygan Marine Recruiter Jeremy Garcia, who got the ball rolling, Feustel now has in his hands a replacement Purple Heart, nestled in a small jewelry case.

The medal is engraved on the back with the veteran's name.

On Saturday, July 7, Feustel plans to present his uncle with the medal during a surprise ceremony scheduled during an annual family picnic at Evergreen Park.

"When the Marine recruiter got it for me to give to Marcel, I knew the cost was $45, but they wouldn't take the money," Feustel said. "He said a decoration like this was already earned. There should never be a charge for it."
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:34 AM
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A Marine Corps flag fluttered in the heat Saturday at the annual Feustel family picnic held at Evergreen Park in Sheboygan. Underneath it sat 82-year-old Marcel Bisson, his hand outstretched as relatives formed a circle around him.

"From one warrior to another," said Marine Staff Sgt. Jeremy Garcia as he handed the aged World War II veteran a Purple Heart, something he'd earned, but had yet to see in his lifetime.

An army machine gunner wounded at the Battle of Iwo Jima on March 2, 1945, Marcel said the original medal was sent to his parents' Minnesota farm, but lost at some point during a move.

"I never knew what happened to it," Marcel said Saturday from a shady spot in the picnic shelter. A quiet man, his eyes expressed deep emotion as he took in the smiles and glances cast his way.

"For the longest time he never wanted to talk about what happened over there," said his nephew Jerry Feustel of Sheboygan.

Feustel arranged for the replacement of his uncle's prestigious military medal and asked the Marine recruiter and two veterans from the VFW Post 9156 in Sheboygan to witness the small ceremony.

Retired Navy man Richard Feustel of Fond du Lac said most of the relatives had no clue what had happened until his uncle Marcel shared his story with The Reporter in February for the 62nd anniversary of the ferocious Battle of Iwo Jima.

The gruesome details of the famous World War II battle, played out on the rocky, volcanic outpost island of the Empire of Japan, were best forgotten, Marcel believed. There were too many dead.

And though he has searched all these years, he never did find his best army buddy, Warren Beatty, who was wounded at the same time but sent home on a different ship.

"It was 12 days of hell. Back then you came back from war and didn't say anything about it," he stated, recalling the sense of helplessness as he and his fellow Marines dug shallow foxholes into coral rock to fight an enemy they couldn't see, the nagging thirst, and the expanding sea of dead and wounded as the fighting continued.

The then 20-year-old was hit with a mortar shell on day 12 of a battle that in the end left 7,000 U.S. Marines and 20,000 Japanese dead. The shrapnel remains imbedded in his arms and back.

His sister, Irma Brunette of Sheboygan, remembers traveling out west by bus to find her brother when the troops came home. Bisson never wrote letters and she feared he was dead.

"For us it was terrible. We were so worried, we went to San Francisco and looked for him from one end to the other. We even checked all the soldiers' boots they had lined up on the dock," Irma said.

She eventually located her brother at the Presidio, a local Army Reserve Base.

Phillip Bisson and his mother Phoebe Bisson came all the way from California to see his uncle get his just reward.

"Today my father Adolph, Marcel's brother, would have been 90, so it's a day fit for remembrance," said Phillip, who spent 12 years in the Navy as an air traffic controller.

A 20-year Army veteran himself, Bisson's stepson Lance Bursch of Texas, said he has been lucky enough to never see war.

"My step-dad never told me war stories, nothing like that. He's a strong man and I'm honored to know him," Bursch said.

During Saturday's ceremony, Richard Feustel surprised Marcel with a container full of black sand from Iwo Jima, gathered for him by a Navy buddy, a pilot by the name of Ed Zukowski.

"I know Marcel would like to go back to Iwo Jima, so we brought part of it to him. It's really deep black, like charcoal, fitting for what the Marines endured there," Richard said.

"I thank all of you," was all Marcel could get out, a red Marine Corps cap angled smartly atop his head.

"You're our hero, uncle," someone shouted above the rousing applause.

Jerry said despite significant losses in life, Marcel is the kind of guy who keeps going. He currently picks up cars for Badger Auto Auction in Fond du Lac.

"He lost three wives to cancer and both of his sons died, one in a car accident and another during a mugging," Jerry said.

The Marine recruiter, standing off to the side in his dress blues, said it's men like Marcel who exemplify the words of the Marine Corps creed Semper Fi, Latin for Always Faithful.

"His story gives me a greater appreciation for what I do. I want to carry on his legacy," Garcia said.
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Old 08-15-2007, 03:37 PM
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Great story, and God speed to our brother! Too bad that stupid reporter had his head up his a$$. Mixin' Army and Marine. Second, I don't use "Former Marine". I'm a Marine now. I earned it. Not "off duty", not "discharged", not "former". Once a Marine, Always a Marine". I ought to coin that phrase, what'd y'all think?
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Old 08-15-2007, 04:43 PM
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Even though there are mistakes..

in the store, it still makes you feel proud to be called a United State Marine. We all had big boots to follow in like generations to come.
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Cpl Miller 1964 - 1970 USMC
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