They got it. The Purple Heart. And they should get it- They have certainly earned it; Men and women in uniform, on a military base. Going about their duties as they swore an oath to do, when they came under attack from an enemy.
It was horrific. Bullets flying, hurling through the air and into their flesh, tearing them apart. Some escaped injury, others escaped with wounds they will forever bear, and still others did not escape at all.
The Purple Heart descends from the Badge of Military Merit, established by George Washington in 1782. It was awarded to just three soldiers before disappearing for well over a century, reemerging after WWI, spending a few years in purgatory, and finally making its makeover debut as the Purple Heart in 1932. Determination of eligibility is as follows:
Awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Forces, after April 5, 1917, has been wounded, killed, or who has died or may hereafter die of wounds received under any of the following circumstances:
- In action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) In action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.
(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.
(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.
(6) After March 28, 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States.
(7) After March 28, 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.
(8) A Service member who is killed or wounded in action as the result of action by friendly weapon fire while directly engaged in armed conflict, other than as a result of an act of an enemy of the U. S., unless (in the case of a wound) the wound is the result of willful misconduct of the member under Section 1129, title 10, U.S.C. (reference (uuu)).
(9) Before April 25, 1962, while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive) in the same manner as a former prisoner of war who is wounded on or after that date while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive under Section 521, DoD Authorization Act for 1996 (reference (vvv)).
* http://www.amervets.com/replacement/ph.htm#isr *
How many of you read that? Of those who did, how many caught the part about “In action against an enemy of the United States” … It was on the first line…there – see? Makes sense to me. How about you? If a soldier is willfully killed or wounded by an enemy while on active duty and oh hey yes on a military base, to boot, that soldier meets the Purple Heart criteria, no?
Our government says…sometimes.
Seems like our government has decided it can only stomach the idea of a palatable “enemy” like a terrorist or insurgent pulling the trigger. And it took 5 years to concede the “terrorist” kind of killer, thus conceding the Ft Hood victims to be eligible. Fortunately for the Ft. Hood victims it seems like the entire country rallied behind them, which prompted powerful political support. But even then, these victims were left to fight for the benefits attached to this honor. Yeesh.
But at least the country still cares about them, because they remain in the media and political spotlight. For us wallflowers it’s another story.
Lt Louis Allen died Jun 8, 2005. Staff Sergeant Darris Dawson and Sergeant Wesley Durbin died on September 14, 2008. Captain Christopher Seifert died on March 23, 2003. These are but some of the soldiers killed on active duty but denied the Purple Heart- because this government refuses to agree that an American soldier who willfully wounds or kills another American soldier- while on base- on active duty- in a combat zone- is an enemy. Make sense to you?
It’s been almost ten years since my husband died. My life has demanded I take several breaks from my efforts to restore his legacy, but I have not waved the white flag just yet. Aside from countless veterans, active duty personnel, friends and strangers who have come forward to support these efforts, I am fortunate to have my representatives stand with me.
Currently I have an appeal pending before the Military Awards Branch, submitted with congressional support. It could be a year before I hear back, or it could be any time before or after. Who knows. What I do know is this – I need to be permitted to present Lou’s case before them. He was denied the opportunity to defend his life. Our family was denied the opportunity to defend the conviction of his killer. Now, Lou must not be denied the right to have his legacy defended, too.
Check out my FB Author page for updates, as well, at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Barbara-Allen/207276809345880?ref=hl
- For full information on Purple Heart eligibility, visit: http://www.usmcvta.org/pheart/phcriteria.htm
- For details on the Ft Hood recipients, visit http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/04/10/fort-hood-shooting-victims-receive-purple-heart-awards/