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World War II Purple Heart Recipients

World War II Purple Heart recipients are very special in many ways. These individuals risked their lives fighting for the United States of America. Not everyone can receive a Purple Heart. It is specifically designated to those who have been injured or killed while fighting against an enemy of the United States.

This is one of the most highly decorated awards granted to individuals in the United States military. The Purple Heart is, as of 2010, the oldest award still given to military personnel. Although this award is given to military personnel who have been injured or killed during combat, there are also additional criteria that make its issuance very special.

History of the Purple Heart Award

World War II Purple Heart Recipients

The Purple Heart award has a long history that dates back to George Washington. The Purple Heart was originally called the Badge of Military Merit. Washington specifically stated the award was to be given to those who shed blood for America and that those who receive the award should be looked upon with reverence.

Washington would issue the award to three soldiers of the Revolutionary War. The Badge of Military Merit then ceased to be issued until after World War II when interest in the award resurfaced. During this time, considerable effort was placed into reintroducing the medal. In fact, the medal was redesigned completely, after which it became known as the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart is heart shaped and includes a gold border that contains the bust of George Washington. The medal also includes George Washington’s coat of arms and, on the reverse side, it states For Military Merit. A large number of these awards, close to 500,000, were made in anticipation for the many injuries and casualties of World War II. However, to date there are still about 120,000 Purple Hearts available from the original 500,000 made during World War II.

World War II Purple Heart Recipients

As many are aware, World War II is considered to be one of the deadliest military conflicts in the history of the world. Many people perished in the United States military as a result of this war. Similarly, many people were injured in this global war as well. As such, it is estimated that there are 964,409 World War II Purple Heart recipients.

This is merely an estimate, as many more awards may have been given, but record keeping during combat is not always accurate. Of all the wars the United States has participated in, World War II is the war where most of the Purple Hearts have been issued as of 2010.

Some individuals earned more than one heart during World War II. For example, each of these individuals have received the Purple Heart more than once for their wounds and/or death in World War II:

  • William L. Russell- Eight Purple Hearts in World War II
  • Robert T. Frederick- Eight Purple Hearts in World War II
  • Albert L. Ireland- Five Purple Hearts in World War II

It is very important to note that during World War II, the issuance of Purple Hearts was usually done on the spot. This often meant leading military officials would sometimes go into hospitals and issue Purple Hearts without there being any official record of the medal being awarded. This complicated the record of exactly how many World War II service men received Purple Hearts.

Criteria for Receiving a Purple Heart

All those involved in battle, such as the World War II Purple Heart recipients, have to meet certain criteria in order to be considered for a Purple Heart. Purple Hearts are awarded to those members of the United States armed forces who have been wounded, died after being wounded or who were killed. Specific incidents qualify an individual to receive a Purple Heart. Those incidents include being wounded or killed as a result of actions performed against an enemy of the United States, while serving with allies against an enemy, as a result of the actions of the opposing armed forces or the result of any act of a foreign force that is hostile. This award is not decorated and individuals can receive the award based on meeting the criteria.