be_ixf;ym_202407 d_20; ct_50

Builder of Branson Belle now serves as Purple Heart educator

Published on Jul 6, 2015 by Paul K. Logsdon

Evangel University was honored to be named a Purple Heart University this past year. Making the presentation to President Carol Taylor are Vietnam veterans and Purple Heart recipients Paul Schmitz Sr., John D. Dismer, Paul Weeks and Bruce Lockwood. // PHOTO BY Paul K. Logsdon


SPRINGFIELD, MO — Some people retire from work and go to the lake. John D. Dismer spent his life around lakes, and now, in retirement, works to educate young people about our nation’s history — specifically, about the Purple Heart.

“We work to help young people know what the Purple Heart means and how one gets it,” said Dismer, commander for the State of Missouri Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart is an award no one wants to receive, according to Dismer, because it is given to members of the armed forces of the U.S. who are wounded or are killed in action, or die of wounds received in action. It is specifically a combat decoration.

Dismer spoke to the Evangel University student body last school year on the occasion of Evangel being honored as a Purple Heart University, recognizing its work with veterans, dependents and active duty military as a top military-friendly university.

“It is heartwarming for us to have the appreciation of your institution for the sacrifices of Purple Heart recipients,” said Dismer before he presented a plaque and flag to President Carol Taylor.

“It is the most profound privilege that we have to honor men and women, not only who have served us, but who have been wounded in that service for our country,” said Dr. Taylor.

During the ceremony, Dr. Taylor also read a University Board of Trustees proclamation “honoring the devotion, sacrifice and service of those who have received the Purple Heart medal.”

Dismer earned his Purple Heart in Vietnam. After four years of service, he left the Army with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer.

In the years that followed, he flew helicopters, started a marine electrical business and eventually got into shipbuilding. His company renovated older ships, such as The Admiral in St. Louis, and built cruise ships on land-locked lakes.

“The largest one I ever built from scratch was the Branson Belle, and that is the largest land-locked boat in the U.S.,” he said.

Now in retirement, this humble hero is still building — only this time, it’s building knowledge as he serves to remind people of the sacrifices made by our nation’s Purple Heart veterans.


Evangel University is a veteran-friendly institution, with a dedicated Veteran’s Center on campus. Between EU and AGTS there are approximately 96 students/dependents who are using their veteran benefits.