Purple Heart Day

"Wounded Warrior" painting by: US Marine Michael Fay

“Wounded Warrior” painting by: US Marine Michael Fay

On this date in 1782, in Newburgh, New York, General George Washington created the “Badge for Military Merit,” a decoration consisting of a purple, heart-shaped piece of silk, edged in silver, with the word Merit etched.  It was to be presented for any one meritorious action and it permitted the wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge.   The honoree’s name and regiment were to be inscribed in “The Book of Merit.”

Purple Heart certificate given during the Korean War

Purple Heart certificate given during the Korean War

Only three soldiers are known to have been awarded this medal during the Revolutionary War: Elijah Churchill, William Brown and Daniel Bissell Jr.  The Book of Merit was lost and the medal was virtually forgotten.  In 1927, General Charles Summerall  sent an unsuccessful draft bill to Congress to revive the Badge.

Patch for Afghanistan

Patch for Afghanistan

General Douglas MacArthur took up the cause, hoping to get the medal reinstated for the bicentennial of George Washington’s birthday.  He succeeded – 22 February 1932 the US War Department announced the creation of the “Order of the Purple Heart.”

National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, New Windsor, NY

National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, New Windsor, NY

This medal is awarded to members of the US Armed Forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy.  It is also given to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.

The 'impersonal chaos of war' display in the Hall of Honor

The ‘impersonal chaos of war’ display in the Hall of Honor

The most Purple Hearts awarded to any individual soldier is nine (9) to USMC Sergeant Albert Luke Ireland; five (5) for World War II and four (4) for his action in the Korean War.

purple_heart

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Total Casualties as of May 27, 2013

Total Serving Battle Deaths Other Deaths Total Deaths Wounded  
Revolutionary War 4,435 4,435 6,188  
War of 1812 286,730 2,260 2,260 4,505  
Mexican War 78,718 1,733 11,550 13,283 4,152  
Civil War 2,213,363 140,414 224,097 364,511 281,881  
Spanish American 306,760 385 2,061 2,446 1,662  
World War I 4,734,991 53,202 63,114 116,316 204,002  
World War II 16,112,566 291,557 113,842 405,399 670,846  
Korean War 5,720,000 33,746 3,249 36,995 103,284  
Vietnam War 8,744,000 47,355 10,796 58,151 153,303  
Desert Storm 2,225,000 147 235 382 467  
Enduring Freedom 1784 318 2.286 9,675  
Iraqi Freedom 3483 890 4,422 31,935  
Totals 580,182 430,370 1,010,876 1,478,096
 
Click on images to enlarge.
 
 
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 Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Andres III – Harvey, LA; US Army, WWII, Lt.Col. (Ret.), Purple Heart

Anthony DiTommasso – Providence, RI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heartpurple-heart

Herbert Faulk – Alcatraz, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Kenneth French – Charleston, MI; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Joseph Gallagher – Radcliff, KY; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 37 years), 2 Bronze Stars, 3 Purple Hearts

Keith James – Easley, SC; US Army, Vietnam, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

William Kiernan – Williamsburg, VA; US Army, WWII, Corps of Engineers, Purple Heart

Herdis McCrary – Green Bay, WI; US Army, Korea, 2 Purple Hearts

Albert Russo – Ambridge, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2nd Ranger Batt., bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Noel Seeburg Jr. – Chicago, IL, US Army, WWII, PTO, Capt., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 7, 2016, in Current News, Korean War, Uncategorized, Vietnam, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 115 Comments.

  1. Those are unbelievably staggering numbers. This was a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! 💜🇺🇸

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  3. Interesting that the Purple Heart didn’t start off as being for getting oneself wounded. I rather doubt that the qualifiers for the reintroduced version were allowed to pass sentries unchallenged,

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    • According to my father, some were given for superficial wounds, unbeknownst to the higher-ups. My dad received shrapnel wounds one day, but was too embarrassed to ever get one. Says he was crossing the compound and thought all that buzzing was from the millions of insects on New Guinea, says he took the shrapnel because of his own stupidity and wouldn’t dishonor the medal by asking for one.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Iraq and Afg probably over 50,000 amputees and over 300,000 with certifiable mental illness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Badge for Military Merit must have been a very elusive medal with only three awarded, and Sergeant Albert Luke Ireland with 9 awards must have had some great story’s to tell his grand kids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back when the medal was started, an officer might not have been even aware of the medal and if he did, it took forever to get word to Washington. But it’s good to see someone received it. I think most veterans have great stories to tell, if they open up.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I never have known about the purple heart award.Thanks for the information

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  7. Thanks for the history , GP . Battle deaths , as horrible as they are , are usually reported while wounded numbers seldom are , it seems . I hadn’t realized that the purple heart award had been gone for such a long period of our history .

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have always wondered about the origin of purple heart award. Great article and thanks for educating me. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nine Purple Hearts means nine serious injuries, am I correct? I’d think that was enough to put a man in his grave. Sgt Ireland must have been one tough SOB.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the Purple Heart lesson. Those Civil War numbers never cease to amaze me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When both sides are from the same country, numbers climb rapidly. They had economic and social differences, an on-going battle between states and federal rights (which I still see today) and the south hated Lincoln even before he was elected – all boiling under the surface.

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  11. Thanks for the history on the Purple Heart. The casualty list was stunning. Broke my heart to think about those soldiers and their families. A sobering post, GP.

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    • I see the history of the medal starting to spread on the internet, but on a whole, not many learn that history. The casualty list breaks my heart – I still say, if two leaders can’t get along – they should do the fighting!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It is so unreal that the death in the civil war make up such a huge proportion of all the history of the US.

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    • When both sides are from the same country, it does make for quite a bit of history – even going back 150 years. (some people think we’re still fighting it)

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  13. I really enjoyed learning the history of the Purple Heart, GP; and the chart of casualties was sobering. Good post for what’s in the news these days.

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  14. While I knew about the purple heart, I found it intriguing to learn about the history of this important metal. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It is a beautiful looking medal that perfectly encompasses the sacrifice made

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thanks so much for this excellent article. I was not familiar with the distinguished history of this important medal. Keep up the great work, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Heart-rending list of casualities, wounded, dead. Fascinating article.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Reblogged this on Random Ramblings; Myriad Musings and commented:
    My family has many Purple Heart awards…the most recent one was given to an uncle, one of my mother’s brothers, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.
    It’s not a medal that any family really wants – and no, it isn’t as easy as just being handed one…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post and absolutely wonderful painting!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. i was shocked to see Mr. Trump got given one !

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  21. Thanks for this post. Much I didn’t know, that I’m glad I do now.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. GP, very interesting facts about the Purple Heart & startling war statistics! Too many people don’t know the facts & horrors of war! Thank you for your enlightening posts! 💛 Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

  23. That set of statistics makes for some very grim reading. On the other hand, your nation is not short of brave and self sacrificing citizens.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. It certainly has a long history and worth remembering.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. A moving tribute. They out to teach this in school. God bless our vets.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great info on this award. I’m a 20 year bet and didnt know this. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Important post, GP. A couple of notes. One the Purple Heart doesn’t cover psychological damage, which in some ways is as bad or worse that physical injuries (depending on the wound). Two, how the numbers have dropped so dramatically. Part of this is due to how much better we have become at dealing with wounds in the field. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pierre Lagacé

    Appaling numbers of casualties…

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  29. Great article and loved hearing the history of the purple heart and that it was re-instated. Interesting chart on the casualties for each of the wars and how many served.

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  30. Interesting history lesson on the Purple Heart, GP. Glad they revived it! I don’t understand why the first bill in 1927 didn’t pass though.

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  31. Reblogged this on In Saner Thought and commented:
    My friend at Pacific Paratrooper posted this today…..a good site if you are at all interested in WW2….

    This is one of those days that we Americans need to pay more attention to…it is dedicated to those wounded in the course of combat to whom we owe a debt that we seem determined to not honor…

    I salute my friend for bringing this to light…..chuq

    Like

  32. Thank you for posting this. A very timely reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. It’s humbling to think of the many who sacrificed so much to be honored by this medal.

    Like

  34. Thank you for posting this. I would like to share it with my readers as well. May I ?

    Like

  35. Reblogged this on A Simple, Village Undertaker and commented:
    I always say we must learn something new every day. I knew some of this, but learned much. If I did, you will too.

    Like

  36. Thank you for sharing statistics.

    Like

  37. Thank you for this post. It is so important!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Nice to reward soldiers wounded in action with these honours. The Germans were very big on wound badges too, though the British and Soviet forces used wound stripes or chevrons.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Perfect post my friend….if you like I will re-blog on IST…chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Good article, thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Thank for helping me to honor these troops.

    Like

  42. Thank you. I know for a fact you understand today.

    Like

  43. Thank you for the ‘plug’ and thinking of me and Koji. I’ll have to get to know your other friends!!

    Like

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