The Story of
James C. McGuire
In June 2021, our eBay and warehouse specialist found these two Purple Hearts in a bag while inventorying items. He immediately felt the weight of what he had found and took it upon himself to find their home. This is the story of these medals and their final resting place.
The Purple Heart
The Purple Heart Medal is awarded to US Service members for injuries sustained while in combat.
His Service in the Korean War
James C. McGuire served in the 21st Infantry Regiment as a Light Weapons infantryman. He was born in Winnebago, Wisconsin. His rank was corporal, service number 16298439. He was killed in hostile action July 11, 1950 during one of the first battles of the Korean War.
On 24 June 1950, the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea, beginning the Korean War. On 30 June, President Harry Truman decided to defend South Korea with American ground forces. The Pentagon selected the 24th Division to deploy first, with the 21st regiment being the first to go to South Korea. Due to a shortage of air transport, the regiment could only airlift a force comprising less than a battalion to Pusan. The remainder of the regiment and the rest of the division were to follow by sea transport. 1st Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Smith, became the advance force. It was designated as Task Force Smith and comprised B & C Companies, half of Headquarters Company, two 75mm M20 recoilless rifles, four M2 4.2 inch mortars and a battery of 105mm howitzers. Task Force Smith airlifted into Pusan and then travelled by rail and truck to a position north of Osan, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. Task Force Smith dug in and prepared to engage North Korean forces on 4 July. At 0816 hours on 5 July, the task force opened fire on a column of 33 North Korean T-34/85 tanks, supported by two regiments of North Korean infantry. Due to the lack of anti-tank weapons, the task force could only destroy four T-34/85s as the North Korean tank column continued south. North Korean infantry then attacked Task Force Smith both frontally and around its flanks. Task Force Smith was able to hold off the North Koreans infantry for six hours, but was forced to withdraw, suffering heavy casualties. During the Battle of Osan, Task Force Smith suffered casualties of 60 killed, 21 wounded and 80 captured, out of a total strength of 540
The remainder of the 21st Infantry arrived at Chochiwon by 7 July. Chochiwon was located along one of two roads to the Kum River and Taejon. The remnants of Task Force Smith the regiment by 8 July. 1st and 3rd Battalions repelled the North Korean advance until 12 July. During the Battle of Chochiwon, the 21st Regiment suffered 531 killed, wounded or missing. On 30 August, the 34th Infantry's 3rd Battalion became the 21st's 2nd Battalion. The regiment fought on the Naktong River line until 19 September. The 24th Division, including the 21st, was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for its actions between 2 July and 15 September.
Where They Are Headed
After a phone call to the Virginia based non-profit Purple Hearts United and a fruitful conversation with the operations officer there, we arranged to ship the purple hearts to their facility. Their mission is to reunite these incredible symbols of heroism and sacrifice with the families of those awarded. They are currently working on locating the families of over 1000 hearts and periodically update the donator on the progress of the search. Check back to see updates as we get them.