Thursday, November 13, 2014

Top 10 Things To Know About the Purple Heart and Its Recipients

1. The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded to those wounded or killed, while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. It is the most recognized and respected medals awarded to  members of the U.S. armed forces.

2. The Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members. George Washington originated the "Badge of Merit" which the Purple Heart is patterned after.
3. In military terms, the award had “broken service,” as it was ignored for nearly 150 years.  It was not until October 1927, after Word War I, that General Charles Summerall proposed that a bill be submitted to Congress to revive the “Badge of Military Merit.” In January 1931, General Douglas MacArthur, Summerall’s successor as Army Chief of Staff, resurrected the idea for the medal.

4. Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart.  The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal, selecting that of John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in May 1931. Sinnock was the designer of the Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar, among other U.S. coins. His initials "JS" can be found on the dime at the base of the Roosevelt bust. 

5. By Executive Order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart was revived on the 200th Anniversary of George Washington's birth, out of respect to his memory and military achievements, by War Department General Orders No. 3, dated February 22, 1932. The criteria were announced in a War Department circular dated February 22, 1932, and authorized award to soldiers, upon their request, who had been awarded the Meritorious Service Citation Certificate, Army Wound Ribbon, or were authorized to wear Wound Chevrons subsequent to April 5, 1917, the day before the United States entered World War I.

6. The first Purple Heart was awarded to MacArthur. During the early period of American involvement in World War II (December 7, 1941 – September 22, 1943), the Purple Heart was awarded both for wounds received in action against the enemy and for meritorious performance of duty. By Executive Order 9277, dated December 3, 1942, the decoration was applied to all services. This executive order also authorized the award only for wounds received. For both military and civilian personnel during the World War II era, to meet eligibility for the Purple Heart, AR 600-45, dated September 22, 1943, and May 3, 1944, required identification of circumstances.

7. During World War II, nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the estimated casualties resulting from the planned Allied invasion of Japan. To the present date, total combined American military casualties of the sixty-five years following the end of World War II including the Korean and Vietnam Wars have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there remained 120,000 Purple Heart medals in stock. The existing surplus allowed combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan to keep Purple Hearts on-hand for immediate award to soldiers wounded in the field.[6]

8. Subject to approval of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Order 10409, dated February 12, 1952, revised authorizations to include the Service Secretaries. Dated April 25, 1962, Executive Order 11016, included provisions for posthumous award of the Purple Heart. Dated February 23, 1984, Executive Order 12464, authorized award of the Purple Heart as a result of terrorist attacks, or while serving as part of a peacekeeping force, subsequent to March 28, 1973.

9. On June 13, 1985, the Senate approved an amendment to the 1985 Defense Authorization Bill, which changed the precedence of the Purple Heart award, from immediately above the Good Conduct Medal to immediately above the Meritorious Service Medals. Public Law 99-145 authorized the award for wounds received as a result of friendly fire. Public Law 104-106 expanded the eligibility date, authorizing award of the Purple Heart to a former prisoner of war who was wounded after April 25, 1962. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85) changed the criteria to delete authorization for award of the Purple Heart to any civilian national of the United States, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with the Armed Forces. Today, the Purple Heart is reserved for men and women in uniform. Civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense who are killed or wounded as a result of hostile action may receive the new Defense of Freedom Medal. This award was created shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

10. National Geographic in its November 2009 edition , history section, estimated the number of purple hearts given. Above the estimates, the text reads, "Any tally of Purple Hearts is an estimate. Awards are often given during conflict; records aren't always exact" (page 33).[1] The estimates are as follows:
Notable Purple Heart recipients: Oliver Stone film maker, Lee Marvin actor, James Arness, Charles Bronson, James Garner, John Kerry, John F. Kennedy, and I’d like to  add William Tuck to this list.
I knew the Medal was "prestigious" but I did not know the details.  I hope these descriptions I found at wikipedia help someone else realize just how big a deal "all military personnel" are and the importance they portray to our freedom from the home of the brave. I think they all deserve medals. 

Here is a link to a complete list of all U.S. Military Medals by Order of Precedence.

The reason I chose to write about the Purple Heart today is because I actually saw one for the first time at a funeral for a fallen former sailor last Friday.  He served his country in Vietnam and he died many years later from cancer.  It seems so unfair. When I saw that medal I said, wow. He walks among the giants.

God Bless Him and Thank You For Your Service. 

Most information was obtained from wikipedia but I did verify it from other websites. You can also search the database and the website and

I also highly recommend taking Veterans Day off next year and attend the parade to honor our veterans In Media, PA. I think this year was my fourth year.  It is a privilege to go out and honor these men and women.

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