published Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Korean War soldier's Purple Heart medal found

PARIS, Tenn. -- Just in time for Memorial Day, a 60-year-old Purple Heart medal found in a farm ravine will be in the hands of the daughter of the fallen Korean War soldier who was awarded it.

The rust-stained medal, its purple enamel peeling away, was found last Sunday by Jerome Cook at the farm belonging to his uncle, Maynard Cook.

The medal was still in its blackened, rusted display case. It bore the name Thomas E. Hutcherson on its reverse side.

With the help of Stephanie Tayloe at the Henry County Archives, it was learned the medal belonged to Pfc. Thomas Eugene Hutcherson. That discovery led them to Hutcherson's only daughter -- Brenda Ginyard of Paris.

Ginyard said she was surprised when the family told her the news.

"It was such a shock to me, and it was so exciting to me," Ginyard said. "It's unbelievable, and the timing of it (so close to Memorial Day). That's what's so ironic."

According to the Sept. 15, 1952, Paris Post-Intelligencer, Hutcherson was killed earlier that month, on Sept. 4. He was an infantryman with the 38th Infantry Regiment when that unit was engaged in the Battle of Bloody Ridge.

He'd entered the service in May 1951, and his daughter was born that September. Prior to entering the army, the Central High School graduate had excelled in football and basketball.

Ginyard said she was only 1 year old when her father was killed, and learned about her father from her grandmother.

"I know he was smart," she said. "She did tell me that. And he was left handed, too, and he must have given that to me."

Today, Hutcherson is buried at Maplewood Cemetery, and his name is listed on the Veterans Memorial at the Henry County Courthouse.

The flag presented to his grieving mother, Alma, is in a chest at his daughter's home, where his Purple Heart also was thought to rest.

"We don't have a clue how it got (in the ravine)," Cook said. "Brenda thought it was in a cedar chest along with his flag."

Ginyard thinks the medal may have disappeared after her grandmother's house was torn down and rebuilt in 1998.

She will be happy to have one more memento of the father she never knew.

"Although I was a baby when he got killed, after I got older, I felt like I knew him because of all the nice things that were said about him."

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