National Purple Heart Day profile: Charles Elder

Korean War Veteran Receives Purple Heart

As the nation celebrates military heroes on National Purple Heart Day, AOL takes a look at some of the most compelling, heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories behind those who have earned the prestigious award.

It took 65 years, but for Charles Elder, this day was worth it.

Elder grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, before enlisting in the United States Army in 1949. He was serving in Korea when he was wounded and captured on Heartbreak Ridge. Despite his serious injury, he was forced to march for 30 days to a prisoner of war camp.

At the camp he was subjected to torture and forced into labor for two and a half years, until his release was finally announced in August of 1953.

Purple Heart Recipient: Charles Elder
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National Purple Heart Day profile: Charles Elder
(Photo: ABC 2 News WMAR)
(Photo: ABC 2 News WMAR)
(Photo: ABC 2 News WMAR)
(Photo: ABC 2 News WMAR)

When Elder received word that he would receive the Purple Heart in 2015, he could barely believe it.

"I dropped the phone and tears came to my eyes. I was speechless," Elder said.

The honor ensures that this "Forgotten War" hero will be remembered forever.

Read more awe-inspiring stories about heroes who have earned a Purple Heart award:

Meet Annie Fox: The first woman to ever be awarded a Purple Heart

Henry Johnson​ was a fiercely brave member of the famed WWII Harlem Hellfighters

Kristin Beck overcame immeasurable challenges on the battlefield and then at home

Calvin Winright's family had no idea he died a war hero -- until one woman found his award

Chris Melendez joined the military after the 9/11 attacks and now he's making history

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