On a sunny autumn afternoon, at the Pultorak residence in Schwenksville, a young Marine stood at attention as a General Officer pinned The Military Order of The Purple Heart Medal to his chest. Lance Corporal Ferdinand (Fred) Coglianese is the young Ma-rine. The Marine pinning him is his father, Brigadier General Vincent Coglianese. General Coglianese is the Commding General of the 1st Marine Logistics Group, based in Camp Pendleton, California. Fred’s mother is Mary Pultorak Coglianese, a 1982 graduate of Perkiomen Valley High School.
The day was bright and clear as the father honored his son with one of the most honorable awards. The Purple Heart is awarded to military personnel who are injured in combat. The medal has a long, storied history. It dates back to the Revolutionary War and General George Washington, who wanted to honor his soldiers injured while serving their country.
LCpl Coglianese was born in Charleston South Carolina and attended multiple schools, in-cluding three high schools, as his father was transferred in service. Fred graduated from State College Area High School in State College, PA and decided to follow the path he had seen his entire life. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008 and underwent recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. He completed Infantry Training School at Camp Lejeune, N.C.and Tank School in Fort Knox, K.Y. From there he received orders to 2nd Tank Battalion in Camp Lejeune in 2011.
LCpl Coglianese deployed with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion to Camp Leatherneck in Hel-mand Province, Southern Afghanistan. He volunteered to be part of a route clearance team, tasked with locating and marking Improvised Explosive Devices. IEDs are strategically hidden by insurgents to inflict casualties on U.S. Coalition Forces and Afghan Nationals. Locating them is a painstakingly tedious and dangerous process, by use of foot patrols, canine units, and hi-tech vehicles.LCpl Coglianese drove a one-man vehicle called a Husky. It is equipped with Ground Pene-trating Radar to detect and identify IEDs. He would drive, watch for possible IEDs appearing on his radar, look out for enemy combatants, and try to defend himself if attacked, all while main-taining communication.The responsibility is critical as it provides safer travel for local Af-ghans and allied forces alike.In June of 2011, as LCpl Coglianese was on patrol, an IED exploded directly under his Husky. The vehicle was destroyed and the cab he was inside of was blown off, rotating over three times before hitting the sand. Fred was knocked unconscious. His fellow Marines scrambled to remove him from the cab. When they found him, one hand held a smoke grenade to signal for help, and clasped tightly in the other was a religious medal his girlfriend had given him.Fred was evaluated and placed overnight in a larger Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle to con-duct a casualty evacuation at first light. As the MRAP pulled out the following morning, it was hit by another IED. Fred was taken to the Forward Operating Base for evaluation, treatment and recovery. He returned to Camp Lejeune in October of 2011.Mary and General Coglianese received word on their injured son and knew of the sacrifice.“We need to recognize that the majority of our Marines are 25 years and younger. These young men and women in the military are all volunteers. For the last 12 years, they have volunteered knowing they’d serve is some military operation, and in a combat situation. When my son joined the MarineCorps, I was so proud. I was also aware of the risk and danger involved.” General Coglianese said.
The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumous-ly to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration. The organization now known as the “Military Order of the Purple Heart,” was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have re-ceived the decoration. Composed exclusively of Purple Heart recipients, it is the only veterans service organization comprised strictly of “combat” veterans. The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to foster an environ-ment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat wounded veterans, promote patriotism, support necessary legislative initiatives, and most importantly, provide service to all veterans and their families www.purpleheart.org