Category Archive 'Purple Heart'

22 May 2017

US Government Still Handing Out Purple Heart Medals Made for the Invasion of Japan

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A WWII-era Purple Heart (left) next to one received in Afghanistan (right).

We are the Mighty:

The… Battle of Okinawa with its high casualty rates and fierce defenders made it clear to American leadership that the upcoming invasion of Japan’s main island would be a costly one for both sides.

To make matters worse President Roosevelt died and his vice-president and successor, Harry Truman, was faced with a choice: an amphibious invasion that would kill an estimated 1 million Allied troops and upwards of 10 million Japanese or drop the new destructive superweapon – the atomic bomb – and force a Japanese surrender.

As Truman worked on his next move, the military’s top brass had no idea what his choice might be. In preparation for the invasion option, the U.S. military ordered hundreds of thousands of Purple Heart medals made, and stored them in a warehouse in Arlington, ready to be handed to those wounded in Operation Downfall.

The attack, of course, never came. Truman went for the nuclear option.

So what to do with all those medals? Give them to the troops, of course. World War II was over but there was still plenty of American combat to come in the 20th century. Though the U.S. has ordered 34,000 more of them after the Vietnam War, the medals from 1945 are still updated and issued as needed.

“Time and combat will continue to erode the WWII stock, but it’s anyone’s guess how long it will be before the last Purple Heart for the invasion of Japan is pinned on a young soldier’s chest,” historian D.M. Giangreco, said in a 2010 e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

The refurbished medals were distributed to military posts, units, and hospitals between 1985 and 1999. Even if new ones were made, the number given wounded service members through 2010 is still less than the number manufactured in 1945.

My father was in the Special Troops of the Third Marine Division, scheduled to be the spearhead of the Invasion of Southern Kyushu. Having blasting experience from the Pennsylvania coal mines, my father would have been tasked with blowing up Japanese pillboxes. Lucky for me this never happened.

10 Jan 2009

Give the Chap Who Ran Away a Medal, Too!

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Don’t slap that PTSD sufferer, General. Give him the Purple Heart!

Michael A. Cohen, Senior Research Fellow at New America Foundation, thinks the Pentagon is just plain mean for refusing to award Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims the Purple Heart, a military decoration given in the name of the president to members of the Armed Forces killed or wounded in combat.

The original form of the award, invented by George Washington during the Revolutionary War, stated: “Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.”

Mr. Cohen rejects the Pentagon’s (and George Washington’s) criteria of shedding blood for one’s country. For him, internal emotional suffering is quite enough.

Simply because their wounds are not evident to the naked eye does not mean they are not real and debilitating. In many respects, those who suffer from PTSD never truly recover and suffer through all sorts of deep psychological trauma. And as for the notion that it’s difficult to diagnose; perhaps the people who made this decision should crack open the latest copy of the DSM.

One would hope that in the 21st century, with all we’ve learned about the debilitating nature of mental illnesses, that these sort of simple-minded and uninformed characterizations of “war injuries” would be restricted to the peanut gallery. But instead they are seemingly driving Pentagon decision-making.

This failure to recognize PTSD has real consequences. Not only will those who are suffering not receive the added — and much-needed — medical benefits that come to Purple Heart recipients, but the stigma around mental illness in the military is only perpetuated by this action. One can only imagine the chilling effect that this decision will have on soldiers already uncomfortable about facing mental illness.

In the characteristic manner of pundits on the left, Mr. Cohen indignantly asserts the unproven and unprovable as a matter of established fact, pointing to the opinion of his ideological confreres, i.e., the liberal compilers of the American Psychiatric Association’s highly controversial and notorious for changing with the winds of fashion Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as inarguably probative.

His unexpressed, even possibly unconscious, goal is really more egalitarianism. From the viewpoint of the left, concepts of individual responsibility and good character must be discredited and rejected. No one is really better than anyone else. Some are simply more privileged than others. It is the inferior, whose failures in war as in peace must be regarded as lying beyond his own control and treated as the basis for a claim against society, who must be championed and decorated.

In her recently published journals, Susan Sontag writes (1957, p.131):

One of the main strands in modern literature (and in modern politics – DZ) is diabolism — that is, self-conscious inversion of moral values. This is not nihilism, the denial of moral values, but their inversion: still rule-bound, only now a “morality of evil” instead of a “morality of good.”

Hat tip to Excitable Andrew.

14 May 2008

Georgie Patton Would Have Loved This

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George C. Scott plays General Patton Slapping a Malingering Soldier in 1943

The Wall Street Journal explains liberalism’s latest atrocity: first, cowardice is promoted to a medical condition; then it becomes possible to argue that cowards should receive medals for their war-time sufferings.

With an increasing number of troops being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (Completely undocumented journalist’s factoid – JDZ) the modern military is debating an idea Gen. Washington never considered — awarding one of the nation’s top military citations to veterans with psychological wounds, not just physical ones.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered cautious support for such a change on a trip to a military base in Texas this month.

“It’s an interesting idea,” Mr. Gates said in response to a question. “I think it is clearly something that needs to be looked at.”


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