Senator Mullin Holds Purple Heart Ceremony to Posthumously Honor Corporal Elmer Vanover

Today, U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) hosted a ceremony to posthumously honor U.S. Army Corporal Elmer Vanover of the 200th Coastal Artillery and present Corporal Vanover’s family with his Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge. Corporal Elmer Vanover’s son, Tim Vanover, spent ten years trying to obtain his father’s Purple Heart. Senator Mullin’s office was able to assist the Vanover family in obtaining the medal in just two months. The ceremony was held at Oklahoma State University, the first Purple Heart university in Oklahoma.

“It was an honor to assist the Vanover family in obtaining Corporal Vanover’s Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman Badge,” said Sen. Mullin. “Corporal Vanover put his life on the line for our country, suffered as a POW, then returned home and still continued to serve those around him. This was the very least we could do for his family to remember his legacy and sacrifice. I firmly believe the men and women of our Armed Forces represent the very best of us, and Corporal Vanover is an incredible example of this truth. May he continue to rest in peace, and may God continue to bless our Purple Heart recipients and their families.”

“Oklahoma State is honored to host today’s ceremony that posthumously awarded Cpl. Elmer Vanover with a Purple Heart Medal. As a Purple Heart University, we are thankful for those that have and continue to serve our country and strive to support all veterans and their families,” said Lance Latham, Chief Communications Officer for Oklahoma State University.


U.S. Army Corporal Elmer Vanover served in the 200th Coastal Artillery during WWII. He was taken prisoner in the Philippine Island of Luzon on April 9th, 1942, and survived not only the Bataan Death March, but three years and four months as a prisoner of war until his release in August 1945. After Elmer returned to the United States, he moved back to Vinita and despite being 70 percent disabled, never stopped working. He was a productive and beloved citizen, state employee, father, and husband. In November 2023, Vinita dedicated a portion of Rt 66 Highway to Elmer. The sign reads “Bataan Death March Survivor Elmer “Red” Vanover Memorial Highway.”