For ten years, the military has refused to award my husband Lou Allen the Purple Heart.
I have had to watch Lou’s admitted killer walk out of the courtroom with a smug smile, and have had to live with the knowledge he will never be held accountable. I have watched a new Purple Heart museum built in my county, and known Lou’s sacrifice is not deemed worthy of inclusion. I have seen stories of other cases of soldiers killing fellow soldiers – all with the same warning signs as in Lou’s death – and I have seen Lou’s name omitted from these cases, too. Slowly, his death is being erased from the record. He falls into no category.
He is among the misfit deaths the military recognizes only as “Other.”
For ten years our family has waged a lonely war, made a little less lonely as legions of veterans and others have stepped forward to support us. I have two Purple Hearts from two extraordinary Vietnam Veterans who gave me their own medals in honor of Lou’s sacrifice, and in shared frustration that this government refuses to do the same. This battle does not come without a price; Each time I launch a new effort I must relive these events. I am again swept up in the pain and immersed in sorrow that Lou’s death is so easily dismissed.
Eleven months ago, with the help of Congressman Maloney, I submitted one more effort. I sent a package to the Military’s Awards Division Board outlining my case and requesting the opportunity to personally appear before it. On Friday, October 30, I received an envelope in the mail. I have until Nov 6 to respond. In the package is approximately 25 pages of redacted CID reports all appearing to point to Martinez as the killer, and then noting the acquittal. I don’t know precisely how to respond, as this is not new information to me, and I submitted as much in my own package. But I do have a horrible sinking feeling that I am again about to hear the same tired line, that Lou was not killed by an enemy.
I have watched over the years as other soldiers wounded or killed by fellow soldiers have been awarded the Purple Heart. As their deaths and injuries are recognized as worthy of honoring and their families find comfort in knowing that. I have felt the taint of my husband’s killer on the legacy of my husband. And I have wondered why- not just why did any of this happen, but why does the military still refuse to include Lou, and others like Wesley Durbin and Christopher Seifert – all killed by traitors in the ranks- as having laid down their lives in combat for this country? As casualties of the enemy?
A primary contrast between those who are awarded the Purple Heart in these cases, and those who are not, is public support. Fort Hood is a great example. So ask now- again- for your help.
Next week I will be responding to the Military Awards Board, and the Board will determine its decision- apparently without allowing me to appear before it. I am asking all of you to share this post. Comment on this blog and spread the word. Thank you.
I will print each letter and include with my response.