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Ex-congressman gives away Purple Heart

June 11, 2012 at 1:41 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 11 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Rep. Paul "Pete" McCloskey said he gave one of his Purple Hearts to Rep. Jackie Speier for her sacrifice in the Jonestown massacre of 1978.

McCloskey, who was wounded twice during the Korean War, gave Speier the Purple Heart at his law firm's Christmas party after he heard she had been shot five times as an aide to Rep. Leo Ryan, who was killed during a fact-gathering mission at Jonestown, Guyana, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Most of the more than 900 people who died at Jim Jones' People's Temple at Jonestown committed suicide.

Speier survived an attack by gunmen on the congressional team.

McCloskey, a Republican, was in the U.S. House from 1967 to 1983. Speier, a Democrat, has been in Congress since 2008. Both are from California.

McCloskey said Speier deserved to be recognized.

"She is pure. She's a true public servant inside and out," McCloskey said.

Speier said she was surprised to be presented with the honor.

"I was totally blown away … as close to speechless as I've ever been," Speier said in a recent interview.

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