Twelve Purple Hearts were awarded on Friday to Stryker brigade soldiers in a ceremony at Fort Lewis, Michael Gilbert of the News Tribune reported Saturday.[1]  --  Partially through the efforts of American militarist Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) when he was army chief of staff (1930-1935), the Purple Heart was created (or "revived," as some prefer to say) on the bicentennial of George Washington's birthday in 1932.  --  A decoration known as the Badge of Military Merit and given to recognize "instances of unusual gallantry" as well as "extraordinary fidelity" and "essential service" had been invented by George Washington in the Revolutionary War, taking the physical form of a heart-shaped piece of purple cloth sewn to the recipient's uniform coat, but it was subsequently "largely forgotten" (Donald Baucom, "Awards, Decorations, and Honors," in The Oxford Companion to American Military History, ed. John Whiteclay Chambers II [Oxford University Press, 1999], p. 67).  --  Like its predecessor, the Purple Heart was originally an award to be "construed as resulting from a singularly meritorious act of essential service."  --  Recipients of a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate during World War I were permitted to exchange their awards for Purple Hearts.  --  But as the U.S. national security state took shape, the award expanded and changed in far-reaching ways.  --  Franklin D. Roosevelt extended the Purple Heart to the other branches of the military by executive order in 1942.  --  Harry Truman, the first Cold War president, retroactively extended eligibility to the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to April 5, 1917, to cover World War I.  --  In 1958, under President Dwight David Eisenhower, Congress chartered the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America, Inc."  --  In 1962, President John F. Kennedy extended eligibility for the Purple Heart to "any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with an armed force . . ., has been, or may hereafter be, wounded."  --  President Ronald Reagan amended Kennedy's order to permit him to award the decoration to those killed or wounded as the result of "an international terrorist attack," and the Purple Heart was conferred on military members or next of kin who were wounded or killed in September 11, 2001 attacks.  --  This evolution is one of the indices of the development of American militarism.  --  In general, militarism in a society has three hallmarks: (1) "the emergence of a professional military class and the subsequent glorification of its ideals"; (2) "the preponderance of military officers or representatives of the arms industry in high government positions"; (3) "a devotion to policies in which military preparedness becomes the highest priority of the state" (Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic [Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 58-63).  --  For more on the Purple Heart, see the web site of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH)....



By Michael Gilbert

News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
March 12, 2005

A dozen Stryker brigade soldiers were awarded Purple Heart medals Friday in a ceremony at Fort Lewis.

The 12 from the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division were all wounded in Iraq in October, November and December and are recuperating as outpatients at Madigan Army Medical Center.

Soldiers awarded the medal were:

• Master Sgt. David Camacho of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment.

• 1st Sgt. Gerardo Avila-Rodriguez of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment.

• Sgt. 1st Class James Grove, Staff Sgt. Thomas Kirkwood and Sgt. Chauncey Sprengler of the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment.

• Sgt. Richard Hanson, Spc. Alex Cassell and Pvt. Kenneth Perdue of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment.

• Lt. Pat Evans and Sgt. Jeffrey Bojanowski of the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment.

• Staff Sgt. Armando Mejia and Spc. Damon Gossett of the 25th Brigade Support Battalion.

Camacho, Kirkwood, Gossett and Evans were wounded in the Dec. 21 suicide bombing at the Forward Operating Base Marez mess hall, which killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. service members and four U.S. contractors. Six of the dead were soldiers from Fort Lewis.

Avila-Rodriguez and Bojanowski were wounded by roadside bombs on Dec. 19, as was Hanson, wounded Nov. 23, and Mejia and Cassell, who were wounded Oct. 29.

Sprengler was shot while on patrol Dec. 9, as were Grove and Perdue, on Dec. 4.

The 1st Brigade has had 21 soldiers killed since it arrived in Iraq last October and dozens more wounded, although the exact number of wounded was not available Friday.

The Purple Heart, which dates to the Revolutionary War, is awarded to military service members who are killed or wounded as a result of an action by an enemy force.

--Michael Gilbert: 253-597-8921, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.