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Search for WWII medals

May 31, 2008
By Howard Riley,
Memorial Day has just passed and Polly (Sweet) Brady has spent another year searching for the military medals awarded to her Uncle Richard Sweet, who was killed in action in World War II.

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Hardy Sweet, who owned and operated the St. Regis Dairy out here on state Route 86, located just below what was most recently the Shanty Horse Farm.

These are not just any medals — one is the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award given after the Medal of Honor. A description of that award by the military manual says: “actions of such a high degree to be above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations except the Medal of Honor.”

Pfc. Sweet, who also was awarded the Purple Heart, was an infantryman killed in France.

The letter follows that was sent to his father dated Dec. 29, 1945, signed by Major General Edward F. Witsell, the Acting Adjutant General:

“I have the honor to inform you that, by direction of the President, the Distinguished Service Cross has been posthumously awarded to your son, Private First Class Richard A. Sweet, Infantry. The citation is as follows: (The family had already received the telegram that he had been killed in action)

‘For extraordinary heroism in action on 4 November, 1944, near Herbaville, France. When his company was halted by a skillfully concealed German machine gun, Private First Class Sweet voluntarily discarded his radio, seized three grenades and advanced in a one man assault through withering fire. Within twenty yards of the emplacement, he hurled his grenades killing two of the German crew, and, under point-blank fire, eliminated the last of the enemy with carbine fire. As his company renewed its advance, Private First Class Sweet was mortally wounded by a sniper but he crawled forward and killed the German who had shot him.’

There was a paragraph describing how the decorations would be presented to the family and the letter closed with this sentence:

“My deepest sympathy is extended to you in your bereavement.”

Now here is what happened to the medals and maybe some reader like Bucky Hayes, a veteran himself, might be able to help trace the medals, although 63 years later, that is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Here is a copy of a hand-written letter sent to the Vets Club sometime later in 1945. The last lines may not be legible in the copy (shown above) but they read: “Boyd Hayes, Post V.F.W. 3357 – Past Commander, also Past District Commander and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Vet’s Club, Saranac Lake — return same as directed above.” Boyd was a great guy and I loved to hear him talk, which was at about 120 words a minute.

Letter illustration

Polly and others have checked with people at the Vets Club who have had no luck in finding the medals.

She writes, “I was up visiting (last November) and decided to stop by the Vets Club to see the display. No one seems to recall having seen it. I talked with Mr. Tom Strack, who was most kind and helpful, but did not have any knowledge of such since he has been there.”

Anyone who has information about the decorations is asked to contact: Polly Sweet Brady, 15 Broadmoor Circle, Cabot, AK 72023; phone (501) 941-1936.

Article Photos

Polly (Sweet) Brady is searching for the military medals awarded to her Uncle Richard Sweet who was killed in action in WWII. One of them is the Distinguished Service Cross, like the one shown above.
(Image provided)



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