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Congressman Higgins Presents Purple Heart to Family of WWI Vet Russell Tucker

8/12/2011- In a ceremony at the Purple Heart monument located along Buffalo’s Waterfront, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) presented a long-overdue military honor to the family of World War I veteran Russell Edward Tucker.

“Today we honor an American hero, who never sought acclaim but will finally receive appropriate recognition for his noble service to this great nation,” said Congressman Higgins, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees. “We are pleased to present the Purple Heart to the Tucker family and thankful to U.S. military men and women, past and present, and the families that support them for the countless sacrifices they make.”

Born in England, Russell Tucker’s family immigrated to Buffalo when he was a child. At age 19 Tucker felt compelled to join the allied efforts supporting his homeland and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1917. Tucker served as a marksman with the American Expeditionary Forces in France from June 1917 until December 1918. During the battle of Belleau Wood Marines and German infantrymen were engaged in hand to hand fighting in a waist-high wheat field under machine gun fire. Over 1,000 brave men died during the battle and many more, including Tucker were wounded. On April 24, 1919 Tucker was discharged honorably with serious battle inflicted injuries receiving only the Good Conduct Medal and $229.11 from the U.S. Government for his service.

He later went on to marry Mildred Kintzel and together they had seven children, 3 boys and 4 girls. Carrying on their father’s love for this nation and selfless spirit, all three sons would go on to serve this country. Gordon Tucker served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII. He was shot down by Germans, captured and became a Prisoner of War who survived and received honors for bravery. Russell J. Tucker served in the U.S. Army in Korea during the Korean Conflict. Richard Tucker served in the U.S. Army. Gary Shea, Russell E. Tucker’s grandson, was killed in Viet Nam in 1968. Shea also received Purple Heart as well as numerous other awards from the U.S. Army. The senior Tucker, a gentle man who enjoyed time with his family and rarely spoke of his military service, passed away in 1971.

The Tucker family, several of whom reside in South Buffalo and Elma, reached out to Congressman Higgins’ office to ask for assistance in obtaining a Purple Heart posthumously for their beloved father and grandfather. Congressman Higgins’ office presented the Tucker case to the Military Awards Branch and recently notified the Tucker family of their success in seeing their loved one receive proper recognition for his bravery and sacrifice for his country.

Linda Tucker Criss, the Granddaughter of Russell E. Tucker added, "Heroes are born from courage, perseverance, and faith that is never diminished by adversity. These are the attributes that exist in all men and women who have nobly served their country. Today, the Tucker family, honors Russell Edward Tucker and all military personnel who serve or have served their country with honor. The family is grateful to Congressman Brian Higgins and his staff for their efforts in securing honor for our father and grandfather."