Purple Heart ceremony


Daryle “Butch” LaFond is pictured giving Merrie Etta (Williams) Stowers, the niece of Lloyd Williams, the Purple Heart medal that he discovered.

MOROCCO — A Purple Heart medal that had been separated from a Jasper County family for over 13 years came back home at a Return Ceremony held at the Newton County Veterans Service Office on Feb. 28.

In early February, Daryle “Butch” LaFond, a veteran who lives in Kentland, was given a box of military memorabilia, in which he found a Purple Heart that had the name Lloyd C. Williams on it.

“My first thought was I need to find his family,” said LaFond. “There was no way I was going to keep it. This man gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

LaFond contacted Newton County VSO Julie Edens to see if she could help, and the search was on.

“With the help of Jasper County VSO Tim Flynn, Christine Howard from the Mary T. Klinker Foundation, and AmVets National Auxillary Officer Deb Goss, we were able to find his relations,” said Edens.

They discovered that Private Lloyd C. Williams, a Jasper County native who was 23 years old at the time, was listed as MIA (missing in action) on November 19, 1942, and is believed to be the first soldier from Jasper County that was lost in World War II. Williams served with the 182nd Infantry Regiment, American Division, and is commemorated in perpetuity at the Manila American Cemetery in Taguig City, Philippines.

The Purple Heart was given to Merrie Etta (Williams) Stowers of Rensselaer, the niece of the purple heart recipient, as well as John Poisel, his nephew, and wife Joyce.

“We were totally surprised it had been found,” said Stowers. The family had the Purple Heart at one point, but we are glad it Mae its way back home.”

Stowers added that the Purple Heart will be placed in a display case in the Jasper County Courthouse.

“If there are other medals out there, I recommend contacting your county’s VSO,” said Edens. “We have connections to help get the search jump-started.”

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