The COMET’s Purple Heart Bus is Ready for Service!
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2018
Contact: Tiffany James
The COMET announces that its newly designed Purple Heart bus is ready for service in recognition of the contributions our Purple Heart Veterans have made to our nation. In February 2015, in partnership with Richland County, the City of Columbia, Lexington County, and Sightline Signs and Graphics, The COMET first introduced a bus wrap to commemorate veteran recipients of the Purple Heart Medal living in the Midlands. The Purple Heart Veterans photos were originally placed on a vehicle that was purchased when the regional transit authority was formed in 2002. The COMET expected to keep the Purple Heart bus in its reserve fleet. The vehicle, however, was damaged in a collision beyond repair in May 2017. The new vehicle entered service today.
Since 1917 the Purple Heart Medal has been awarded to those in the U.S. military wounded and/or killed in battle. From Belleau Wood in World War I to Omaha Beach and the Pacific Islands in World War II, the Chosen Reservoir on the Korean Peninsula, to the jungles of Vietnam; through the most recent engagements in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Niger. The recipients of this honor are part of a continuum. As the battles leave newspaper headlines and become part of the United States’ martial history, the warriors too move into memory. Two of the Purple Heart recipients who appeared on the original vehicle, Harry Boswell and Don Hotz, have since passed away. Their faces will remain on the new vehicle with others from the first, joined by additional members of the next generation who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan: Halsey Hinson, Ramon Guitard, and Charles Cook.
Some changes to the original design were necessary, since seventy percent of The COMET’s vehicles were replaced during the summer of 2017. The first Purple Heart bus wrap was previously designed for a different bus type, and the nine images used on the original bus covered the windows. The new design will have more, smaller images to fit in tighter spaces without the windows being covered.
Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Charles Cook, Commander of Chapter #402 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart coordinated nine (9) additional members of this chapter who live within the Midlands to be photographed at The COMET’s offices. A total of 18 members have now been photographed. This is truly a Bus of Honor.
“The appreciation and support of the military in Columbia and the Midlands is amazing. I have the utmost admiration of this area, so much so that Mary and I decided to remain here upon my retirement from the Army in 2014,” says Charles Cook. “The Members of Chapter #402 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, wish to thank the board and management of the COMET, Sightline Digital, and the other community partners for doing this gesture, to show that we continue to fight for freedom across generations and across time. [Veterans] are from all over the United States, and we are from Columbia and the Midlands.”
The COMET’s Interim Executive Director Ann August, also an Army veteran, indicated “I was honored to serve in the United States Army for 30 years and am extremely proud that the COMET has the opportunity to honor and recognize our Purple Heart Soldiers for their distinguished service.”
Old Bus Photo Layout Driver’s Side Front to Back:
- Harry Boswell (Deceased, WWII Veteran)
- Lou Fowler (WWII)
- Halsey Hinson (Iraq)
- Theodore Jenkins (Vietnam)
- Andrew McMahon WWII
Old Bus Photo Layout Door Side Front to Back:
- Don Hotz (Deceased, Korean War)
- Henry Geathers (Vietnam)
- Ramon Guitard (Iraq)
- Colonel Lewis Monroe (WWII)
- Frank Kmetz (Vietnam)
- James Miller (Vietnam)
- Charles Cook (Afghanistan)
- John Testruth (Vietnam)
- Marion Lowery (Korean War)
- Steven Diaz (Iraq)
- Vern Brantley (WWII)
- Jermal Washington (Iraq)
- Paul McClanahan (Vietnam)