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South Dakota WWII veteran set to receive Purple Heart medal

Sylvan Vigness, right, speaks with U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds at the Purple Heart Medal Ceremony for Vigness on Saturday in Flandreau. Vigness is a World War II veteran. (Photo courtesy of the office of U.S. Sen. Rounds.)

FLANDREAU (AP) — A World War II veteran from South Dakota is set to receive his Purple Heart medal, nearly three-quarters of a century after serving in the Navy.

The Argus Leader reports that a ceremony for 94-year-old Sylvan Vigness, of Flandreau, is scheduled Saturday afternoon at the Flandreau Community Center. His 89-year-old wife, Iona, is presenting the award.

Sylvan Vigness served on the USS Hinsdale as petty officer and signalman. He injured his left eye in 1945 during a Japanese kamikaze plane crash onto his ship headed to the initial landings at Iwo Jima in the western Pacific. He wasn't treated until months later.

Vigness is a longtime South Dakota educator who spent most of his time in Flandreau, where he taught agriculture and served as school superintendent. He retired in 1988.

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