Honoring Private 1st Class Oscar Lee Padgett
August 7 is Purple Heart Day. The Purple Heart is presented to those killed or injured while serving with the United States military.
Gen. George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, created the Badge of Military Merit on August 7, 1782. The first Badge of Military Merit was awarded to three Revolutionary soldiers in 1783. The award later became the Purple Heart.
No medals were awarded until 1932. Revived on the bicentennial anniversary of George Washington’s birth, a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932, announced the criteria for awarding a Purple Heart. For more information, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_Heart
On this day, Osceola History honors former Kissimmee resident Private First Class Oscar Lee Padgett, recipient of the Purple Heart. Oscar was born on January 15, 1917, in Statesboro, Georgia, to Sentell and Lillie Padgett. The family moved to Kissimmee about 1927. On January 16, 1942, Oscar enlisted at Camp Blanding, Florida, and served with the U.S. Army 35thDivision. While advancing against the Germans on January 4, 1945, he was wounded in the knee and taken prisoner. He spent 82 days as a captive in Central Germany until the Third Army took the town and liberated all those held prisoner.
Oscar was presented the Purple Heart medal while recovering at Lawson General Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, in June of 1945. He returned to Kissimmee and lived on Mabbette Street until his death on January 3, 1983. Oscar never married but after retiring in the early 1960s, he took care of his parents until their deaths. In a 1981 newspaper interview, Oscar stated he didn’t like to be “cooped up,” a reminder of his days as a prisoner of war, so he spent his days, sitting on his front porch.
Oscar Lee Padgett is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Kissimmee, Florida.
Written by Anza Bast
“Kissimmee Gazette” June 8, 1945
The Orlando Sentinel” January 2, 1981, January 5, 1983