DAR Awards Highest Honor to Vermont National Guard Officer
Montpelier – At its 115th State Conference the Vermont Daughters of the American Revolution bestowed its organization’s highest award, the National DAR Medal on Honor on Captain Zachariah Fike of Georgia, Vermont. The award recognizes outstanding leadership, trustworthiness, service and patriotism. Past recipients have included broadcaster Tom Brokaw, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Bob Dole, and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Zachariah Fike’s life and work is an inspiring example of the unusual and lasting contribution to American heritage required to earn this honor. Over the last 15 years, Captain Fike has served as an enlisted man and Officer. He is currently serving as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Officer and as the Operations Officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (Mountain), which is a Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) unit in St. Albans, VT, which is part of the Vermont Army National Guard. Captain Fike has served Combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. For his Service, Zachary has been awarded two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, eight Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, five Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals, National Defense Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 10 Year Device, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO ISAF Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Action Badge, Pathfinder Badge, and Military Mountaineer Badge.
Zachary’s service to country carried over into his private life when he started a nonprofit foundation called Purple Hearts Reunited, which locates lost or stolen U.S. Military Medals and returns them to the veteran who earned them or to their families in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. Zachary donates a considerable amount of his personal time and finances to researching and locating the original recipient or family and conducts a “Return Ceremony” to reunite the veteran or family with the medal. To date, he has conducted over 65 returns and is currently working on over 200 medals that need a home. He also takes time to enroll these heroes into the Purple Heart Hall of Honor and has personally enrolled over 600 recipients.
Since starting this project, Zachary has personally dedicated over 2000 hours and a significant amount of his personal finances toward this effort. As an Active Duty Officer, Zachary works during the day and then returns home for family chores before dedicating 2-3 hours each night to researching each medal and searching for their owners or families. On weekends, he scours local antique/flea markets and pawnshops in order to rescue lost or stolen medals. He also sacrifices his weekends and often takes military leave to conduct the medal return ceremonies, which are conducted throughout America.
Purple Hearts Reunited is an incredible organization that is tightly managed and run by CPT Fike who has grown this organization from the ground up on passion and mission dedication alone. I served in Afghanistan with CPT Fike, his dedication to my men and their ability to remain equipped and ready to take the fight to the enemy was critical. He understands the brotherhood of Valor and sacrifice that is essential to having credibility in an organization such as this.
I have been personally present for several of the returns, and the peace and pride it brings to the recipients - too often on behalf of the actual soldier - is immeasurable. His strategic vision, relationship building, and resourcefulness has allowed him to maximize the efficiency of his shoestring budget that started out of his own pocket. A great leader and a great cause that everyone should want to feel pride to be a part of.
I served with Zach during a combat deployment to Afghanistan. It was my first time meeting him, but immediately, I knew that he was the epitome of an Army officer. Throughout the deployment, I witnessed his courage and sacrifice. Fortunately for our veterans, he started a wonderful non-profit. I witnessed a PH return in Kansas City this past year, and the moment that I observed the impact that this foundation had on our veterans and families, I was hooked. Zach understands personal courage. It's not easy to face grieving families, but he embraces their pain to recognize our Nation's heroes. Zach is a hero too. Kelp up the great work!
The Phillips 66 Veterans Network has had a relationship with CPT Fike and Purple Hearts Reunited for over a year. Their laser focus on the mission and flawless execution make us proud to partner with them. CPT Fike does a great job of communicating with and engaging partners to keep us abreast of their latest activities and ways we can grow together. Happy to be a part of the effort and looking forward to many more years together.
I've known Fike for a decade now. I can honestly say that he was destined to perform this duty. His passion for the mission stems from personal experience. I've followed PHR before it was an NGO. So much effort has been placed into the efforts and deliverables of this fine organization. Veterans and their families are proud of the sacrifice and service of that individual and when that is literally lost to the four winds PHR takes on the duty to reunite those pieces that encompass more than the act that resulted in the award, but the emotions that come with that type of sacrifice. PHR embraces this mission with grace, responsibility, and the respect it demands. PHR truly supports it's beneficiaries by focusing on that eventual deliverable of reunification. Keep up the amazing work.
Purple Hearts Reunited was able to accomplish in 5 weeks what a congressman and several government agencies couldn't do in close to 5 years. Being there to see the reactions of the service members widow and grown children was something I will remember for the rest of my life. The work, care, devotion and pride put into each return cannot be matched by any other organization.
I have had the pleasure of attending several returns performed by Purpe Hearts Reunited. Each return is heart warming and the closure brought to each family is life changing. We should do more to not only support Captain Fike, but all Veterans of our Country.
I have served with CPT Fike for over two years and during that time I have seen first-hand his dedication to our men and women in uniform. His tireless efforts to re-unite family members with their loved one’s military honors is just an extension of his commitment to the men and women who serve this nation. Purple Hearts Reunited is a top notch organization and the service they provide to the family members of our fallen veterans is exceptional. I will continue to help and support CPT Fike and Purple Hearts Reunited and I encourage everyone who honors our military veterans to contribute what they can to this worthwhile organization.
Captain Fike’s organization epitomizes the core Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. He has set the bar for contributions to his national community at a new level. His returns are thoughtful, well orchestrated acts of incredible kindness and displays of respect and honor to both the family and the service member.
Zach’s personal connection to each return is validated by the vast amount of personal time and finances spent on verification of the medals he receives. His returns and the presentations of the medals to the families have provided immeasurable pride and often well deserved multi-generational closure to families honoring the sacrifice of their fallen.
Captain Fike and his organization are as heroic as the veterans they represent. He truly honors their sacrifice with his service.
The Purple Heart Reunited is a very professional organization that reunites veterans and their families with lost purple hearts. You cannot find a more dedicated and passionate leader then Zachariah Fike. Zach has spent a great deal of his own personal time away from his family to continue his goal of reuniting as many purple hearts to their rightful owners as he can. The amount of joy this organization has brought to the families and veterans is overwhelming.
Purple Hearts Reunited is an unbelievably productive organization, locating and serving the rightful owners of military medals. Captain Zachariah Fike has returned over 100 medals by himself, essentially in his spare time, over the course of only a few short years. The impact that these return ceremonies have on the families involved is staggering, and is an important piece of allowing military families to heal and gain the recognition of service that they deserve.
After buying two Purple Hearts from antique stores and giving them to Zachariah Fike, I attended several of the returns. To see the joy and gratitude on the family members faces was worth the money I invested. CPT Fike is dedicated to his cause and brings much to these families, some who have nothing left of their loved one, but this medal. These medals belong with the families who have given so much to this country. I will continue to support this cause in the future.