An Enfield family accepted two service medals, including a Purple Heart, Monday on behalf of a relative who died while fighting for the U.S. Army in World World I.
Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2) presented presented the medals to Mary Knapp, the niece of Private Patrick O'Brien, who fought in the Army with the Company M, Third Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces during World I in France, according to a news release from Courtney's office.
O'Brien was born in County Kerry, Ireland in 1896 and moved to the U.S. in 1914.
He was wounded on Oct. 1, 1918 during World War I and earned a Purple Heart, returning to his unit after he was treated for injuries, according to Courtney's office. He was killed in action later on Oct. 6, 1918 during the war.
One of the medals was the Purple Heart, decorated with a "bronze oak leaf cluster," and the other was a World War I Victory Medal, as well as the France Service Clasp, the Meuse-Argonne Battle Clasp and St. Miheiel Battle Clasp, according to Courtney's office.
“I am honored to present these World War I service medals to Private O’Brien’s survivors. The commitment to serve our nation is evident throughout the family lineage that Mary Knapp represents here today, and these medals will be a significant contribution to their family history for generations to come,” Courtney said in a statement. “Though the last U.S. veterans of World War I have passed, stories like that of Patrick O’Brien, who fought and died for our country just a few years after he arrived on its shores, are kept alive through family members like Mary.”
Knapp herself is a veteran and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, according to a news release from Courtney's office. She is also on Courtney's Enfield Veterans Advisory Board.