Congressman Sean Maloney

Representing the 18th District of New York

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Maloney Presents Purple Heart to Vietnam Veteran Paul DeRogatis of Washingtonville

Nov 1, 2018
Press Release

New Windsor, NY – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) presented Washingtonville resident, Army Specialist Paul DeRogatis with a Purple Heart days before his 70th birthday, after the veteran spent decades working to obtain a replacement for his original medal. Mr. DeRogatis’ original Purple Heart was lost during the veteran’s transfer from a U.S. Army medical facility in Japan to Walter Reed Hospital while he was incapacitated and in a body cast.

“Veterans who were wounded while honorably serving their country shouldn’t have to wait decades to get the awards and benefits they earned, but I’m glad this story ends with Mr. DeRogatis getting his Purple Heart,” said Rep. Maloney. “This is what I get paid to do – serving our veterans is one of the most important and rewarding parts of my job, and I hope any veteran in the Hudson Valley who needs a hand getting their awards or benefits will give us a call.”

“I would first like to thank my friend Louis Testa for saving my life in Vietnam. Unfortunately, he is no longer here due to his long battle with cancer. I’d also like to thank my wife, my son, my two daughters and my friends who never gave up on me,” said Army Specialist Paul DeRogatis. “Thank you Senator Larkin for your help in forwarding my file to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney who took the time to review and investigate my records and to his Assistant Cullen Lyons. Thank you Congressman Maloney for all that you have done for me and for all the other Veterans that you have helped.”

“Today, Congressman Maloney reissued Mr. DeRogatis his Purple Heart Medal. Mr. DeRogatis was injured by enemy fire during his service in Vietnam in 1969,” said John Hussey, President of Rep. Maloney’s Veterans Advisory Board. “The Purple Heart Medal is one of the most distinguished awards in the US Military. It demonstrates that the recipient was literally wounded by the enemy. In this case, Mr. DeRogatis “spilt his blood” in service to his nation. Today, we as Americans, are proud of Mr. DeRogatis and recognize his service to the United States. We are pleased that his family, friends, and neighbors had to opportunity to see him receive such a prestigious award from Congressman Maloney.”

Statement from the National Purple Hall of Honor: “The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor’s mission is to collect, preserve and share the stories of Purple Heart recipients. Providing the venue for Purple Heart award ceremonies is consistent with that mission as the award represents the formal recognition of the sacrifice made by the recipient. The Hall of Honor was pleased to be able to provide this opportunity for Vietnam veteran Paul DeRogatis.”

Mr. DeRogatis and his wife have spent over 40 years working to recover a replacement medal, but found little success until they were put in contact with Rep. Maloney’s office in September. Rep. Maloney’s veterans’ advocacy team contacted the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) and successfully worked to locate the documents that prove Mr. DeRogatis was wounded while serving his country in Vietnam. In addition to recovering the medal, Rep. Maloney’s office is actively working with Mr. DeRogatis and the department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to ensure that he is receiving all the benefits that are owed to him. 

Mr. DeRogatis was injured at the beginning of April 1969 in Vietnam when his base was mortared by the enemy. During the attack, Mr. DeRogatis’ friend Lou Testa, left the protection of his bunker to find Mr. DeRogatis laying on the ground unable to move and severely bleeding from his leg. Lou then dragged his friend back to the safety of the bunker where they stopped the bleeding.

At the conclusion of the attack, Mr. DeRogatis was evacuated to Japan, where he was put in a body cast and awarded the Purple Heart. Three days later, he was informed he would be sent to Walter Reed Hospital to recover. During the transfer, all of Mr. DeRogatis’ belongings were put into a box, including the Purple Heart. Upon arriving at Walter Reed, Mr. DeRogatis discovered that several items were missing from the box, including his Purple Heart.

After being discharged from Walter Reed and the Army, Mr. DeRogatis continued to suffer from a leg injury and was unable to return to work in the civilian world. The DeRogatis family moved from their original home in Brooklyn to Washingtonville in 1995, and have lived there ever since.

For years, Mr. DeRogatis and his wife searched for records showing proof that Mr. DeRogatis received the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained in Vietnam. In September, Mr. and Mrs. DeRogatis were referred to Rep. Maloney’s office and received assistance in obtaining a replacement medal.

Since taking office in 2013, Rep. Maloney has obtained over 220 medals and awards owed to veterans for their service to their country. His office has also assisted over 1,700 veteran and military families and returned over $8 million in earned benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rep. Maloney has also worked to pass nine bills into law to benefit our veterans. These bills cut-down on wait times at the VA, help our veterans find good-paying jobs, and ensure active duty service members enjoy the same level of protection from predatory debt collectors as their civilian counterparts.

Rep. Maloney has introduced legislation which would honor the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor with a commemorative coin provided by the U.S. Mint. Proceeds from this program would benefit the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc. for projects and programs at that help preserve the memory and sacrifices of our service men and women who were wounded or killed in combat. The Hall of Honor is located in Rep. Maloney’s district in New Windsor, NY, where George Washington first founded the Purple Heart medal in 1782.