AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thirty-three Austin firefighters served in the military during World War II. Four of them were killed in action. One of these men was honored on Wednesday thanks to a random act of kindness from a local woman.
Crystal Garcia was shopping at an estate sale in Killeen in January when she stumbled upon a Purple Heart, the medal given to those wounded or killed by enemy action. After she purchased it, she was compelled to find out more about the man it belonged to.
The man was Clarence Doherty, who had worked at Fire Station 7 for the Austin Fire Department before he was killed in Tunisia on April 9, 1943. Garcia found his name on the Austin Fire Museum website and decided to donate the Purple Heart to the museum as a historic artifact.
According to a statement released by the Austin Fire Department, they were so happy to receive the medal they planned a ceremony to commemorate the event on the 71st anniversary of Doherty’s death. While preparing for the event, Austin Fire Department staff found a captured Nazi flag with the names of everyone on Doherty’s company – Company A of the 135th Regiment. Doherty’s name is listed on the flag as “Killed in Action.”
The Austin Fire Department also invited the six remaining retired firefighters who are also WWII veterans, four of whom attended the ceremony. Doherty’s grandson, Stephen Murchison, also attended the event.
Doherty’s body lies in the North Africa American Military Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia. The fire department has honored him, and the three other men who died in combat during WWII – Earl Summerrow, Seth Glasscock and Pinckney Seiders – with a tree and a plaque at their respective stations.