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First Posthumous WWI Purple Heart?


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From: http://www.uticaod.com/features/x156973751...es-Purple-Heart

 

 

Deceased WWI vet's great nephew receives Purple Heart

By AMANDA FRIES

Observer-Dispatch

 

UTICA —

A World War I veteran finally received his Purple Heart, thanks to the diligent digging of his great nephew’s daughter, Alexis Werchowski.

 

The Werchowski family Wednesday was presented with the Purple Heart award as well as the WWI Victory Medal and Silver Victory Button for Private First Class Michael Miklos’s service in the war. He died during the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne Forest on Oct. 12, 1918 and was buried at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Romagne, France.

 

Congressman Richard Hanna and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shirley Eadline presented the awards after the office purchased them. The military couldn’t present the awards because there is no next-of-kin, Hanna said.

 

“It matters to them (to receive the awards),” he said. “This is their heritage.”

 

“This is a great honor,” Eadline said as she presented the certficiate. “As you can imagine, nothing is greater than service to God and America. Your uncle must have thought the same thing.”

 

While this doesn’t happen regularly, Hanna said awards have been purchased to present to family members one other time.

 

If it wasn’t for Alexis Werchowski beginning the endless journey of discovery her family lineage, however, Miklos never would’ve been discovered.

 

“I was surprised that my father had a brother,” Joan Wechowski said. “I just found out when Alexis found out.”

 

Joan’s parents died when they were young, and so she was never told of Miklos.

 

Alexis, who is a junior history major at Clarkson University, began unweaving the web of her genealogy to earn a Girl Scout badge in 2002, but she said it wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that Miklos was uncovered.

 

Through many interviews, Ancestry.com and government databases for decease servicemen and national cemeteries, Miklos’s gravesite location and birth date were revealed.

 

And Alexis intends to continue her digging.

 

“Once I got into the family history, I couldn’t put it down,” she said. “I still work on it every week.”

 

Copyright 2012 The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York. Some rights reserved

Tom Lane

www.purplehearts.net

TURKEY TROTS TO WATER.... THE WORLD WONDERS

 

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Congressman Richard Hanna and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shirley Eadline presented the awards after the office purchased them. The military couldn’t present the awards because there is no next-of-kin, Hanna said.

 

I suspect the second paragraph of the Army's response was that the Purple Heart was not awarded to those killed in WWI.

Jeff Floyd

The universe is made up of neutrons, protons, electrons and morons

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I suspect the second paragraph of the Army's response was that the Purple Heart was not awarded to those killed in WWI.

 

I guess it depends on how you read President Kennedy's Executive Order 11016:

 

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_11016

 

Sections 2 and 4 seem to say that even posthumous awards for WWI were allowed. Of course, the request had to come from official next of kin (spouse, parents, siblings, children). Since EO 11016 was signed in 1962, I'll bet somewhere, sometime, a posthumous WWI PH was awarded. And I guess if you found a 93 year old child of a WWI KIA today, they'd be entitled to one too.

Tom Lane

www.purplehearts.net

TURKEY TROTS TO WATER.... THE WORLD WONDERS

 

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Tom,

Did you note that the Congressman purchased the medals (note: Purple Heart) on his own? Wonder if the SVA police will go after him...

 

LOL. No comment on the SVA. I get into too much trouble here when I do!!

 

If you watch the video, you'll see what looks to be an official PH certificate. Wonder how the congressman got that one?

Tom Lane

www.purplehearts.net

TURKEY TROTS TO WATER.... THE WORLD WONDERS

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
I suspect the second paragraph of the Army's response was that the Purple Heart was not awarded to those killed in WWI.

 

They would not give the Purple Heart to this family because none of them are the "primary" next of kin according to the Army's regulatory policy.

 

"Posthumous awards are authorized a one time issuance for the primary next of kin starting with the spouse, eldest child, father or mother, eldest brother or sister or eldest grandchild."

 

 

My fiance made a request to the Army for award of posthumous award of the Purple Heart to his great uncle who was killed in action in World War 1. Their reply, he is not primary next of kin, and is not entitled to any awards verified by this office.

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They would not give the Purple Heart to this family because none of them are the "primary" next of kin according to the Army's regulatory policy.

 

"Posthumous awards are authorized a one time issuance for the primary next of kin starting with the spouse, eldest child, father or mother, eldest brother or sister or eldest grandchild."

My fiance made a request to the Army for award of posthumous award of the Purple Heart to his great uncle who was killed in action in World War 1. Their reply, he is not primary next of kin, and is not entitled to any awards verified by this office.

Kathy,

Sounds like your fiance needs to write his congressman and senator; only way to get such a rule modified when no fist line NOK is still alive is for other to ask.

Regards,

John

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great uncle who was killed in action in World War 1. Their reply, he is not primary next of kin, and is not entitled to any awards verified by this office.

 

Yes - that is pretty far removed and depending upon the size of the families through the generations, there could be lots of great-nephews and nieces: I've got perhaps a dozen and we're a fairly small family.

 

The women in the news story was the "great nephew’s daughter" or "great-great-niece." Yes, she has a family relationship, but she is three generations removed. A great-uncle is our grandfather's (or mother) brother. A great-great uncle is the brother of a great-grandparent - pretty distant.

 

Keep in mind: this was a totally unofficial awards ceremony, done by the Congressman for publicity purposes (I know because I was a Congressional aide and this the kind of thing we routinely did for a living).

 

From a collector's standpoint, these are not the veteran's medals. It's a nice gesture that she wanted to remember her great-great uncle, but any of her cousins could go out and buy similar decorations and they would have the same status as the ones presented through the Congressman's office: replicas of something that may have actually never existed.

 

The military's policy of providing medals and decorations only to "primary" next of kin makes good sense, but we are too far removed from "great-great uncles" to have any claims on their legacy.


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Hi John,

 

He did go through his congressman and that was the reply from the Army. He has not given up and will contact the office(s) of Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein if it is necessary.

 

Kathy

 

 

Kathy,

Sounds like your fiance needs to write his congressman and senator; only way to get such a rule modified when no fist line NOK is still alive is for other to ask.

Regards,

John

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In the case of my fiance's great uncle he had no primary next of kin when the Executive Order 11016 was signed by President Kennedy on April 25, 1962. His last primary next of kin, his oldest brother was deceased by then. There was no one to make an application for receipt of posthumous Purple Heart on his behalf.

 

Yes - that is pretty far removed and depending upon the size of the families through the generations, there could be lots of great-nephews and nieces: I've got perhaps a dozen and we're a fairly small family.

 

The women in the news story was the "great nephew’s daughter" or "great-great-niece." Yes, she has a family relationship, but she is three generations removed. A great-uncle is our grandfather's (or mother) brother. A great-great uncle is the brother of a great-grandparent - pretty distant.

 

Keep in mind: this was a totally unofficial awards ceremony, done by the Congressman for publicity purposes (I know because I was a Congressional aide and this the kind of thing we routinely did for a living).

 

From a collector's standpoint, these are not the veteran's medals. It's a nice gesture that she wanted to remember her great-great uncle, but any of her cousins could go out and buy similar decorations and they would have the same status as the ones presented through the Congressman's office: replicas of something that may have actually never existed.

 

The military's policy of providing medals and decorations only to "primary" next of kin makes good sense, but we are too far removed from "great-great uncles" to have any claims on their legacy.

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I agree that it doesn't have the same meaning when the Purple Heart had to be purchased, collector's standpoint or not. I can speak for my finace in saying that his intent is to see that his great uncle is awarded the recognition he earned when gave his life for his country, it is not to claim his legacy.

 

 

 

 

Yes - that is pretty far removed and depending upon the size of the families through the generations, there could be lots of great-nephews and nieces: I've got perhaps a dozen and we're a fairly small family.

 

The women in the news story was the "great nephew’s daughter" or "great-great-niece." Yes, she has a family relationship, but she is three generations removed. A great-uncle is our grandfather's (or mother) brother. A great-great uncle is the brother of a great-grandparent - pretty distant.

 

Keep in mind: this was a totally unofficial awards ceremony, done by the Congressman for publicity purposes (I know because I was a Congressional aide and this the kind of thing we routinely did for a living).

 

From a collector's standpoint, these are not the veteran's medals. It's a nice gesture that she wanted to remember her great-great uncle, but any of her cousins could go out and buy similar decorations and they would have the same status as the ones presented through the Congressman's office: replicas of something that may have actually never existed.

 

The military's policy of providing medals and decorations only to "primary" next of kin makes good sense, but we are too far removed from "great-great uncles" to have any claims on their legacy.

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Kathy, remember too that the family of the great uncle who was killed would not have received a purple heart because the award didn't exist until 1932. Even at that time is wasn't authorized for a soldier who died but only those wounded or who received the MSCC. It wasn't until WW2 that things changed and a PH was authorized for someone KIA. My suggestion would be to buy a mint WW2 era slot brooch PH and have it nicely engraved. After a long gov't battle you might get what occurred in the other situation [a publicity stunt by a politician] or you might get nothing. But, an even better idea is to find a WW1 "Columbia Accolade" to a soldier who was killed in action [two types exist, WIA and KIA]. Have it matted to cover the other soldiers name which is individually printed along the bottom. I think they are beautiful and under-valued. It would be a nice way to remember the fallen family member. Yes I know its a shame to cover another soldiers name who gave his life, I just want to float the idea of the accolade that often gets forgotten.

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The Purple Heart was revived in honor of George Washington in 1932, however, on April 25, 1962 President Kennedy signed Executive Order 11016 and it included the award of the Purple Heart posthumously. I have included part of the text below. Note that it says forward to the next of kin, not primary next of kin.

 

 

2. The Secretary of a military department, or the Secretary of the Treasury, shall, in the name of the President of the United States, award the Purple Heart, with suitable ribbons and appurtenances, posthumously, to any person covered by, and under the circumstances described in, paragraph 1 who, after April 5, 1917, has been, or may hereafter be, killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded.

 

3. A wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer.

 

4. The Purple Heart shall be forwarded to the next of kin of any person entitled to the posthumous award, without respect to whether. a previous award has been made to such person, except that if the award results from service before December 7, 1941, the Purple Heart shall be forwarded to such next of kin upon his application therefor to the Secretary of the department concerned.

 

The complete text of the Executive Order 11016 can be found here

http://research.archives.gov/description/300012

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If you watch the video, you'll see what looks to be an official PH certificate. Wonder how the congressman got that one?

 

Yeah I'd love to know how he got an official PH certificate too. While it's common knowledge that the government issues replacement medals, they haven't issued replacement certificates for a long time now ??? He must have pulled a few "congressional strings" to get that one, if it's legit ???

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  • 5 months later...

As a followup, my fiance provided the Army with the necessary proof of his great-uncle's military service and death in service of his country in World War I , 2nd Battle of the Marne (records were destroyed in the NARA fire).

 

In June the Army awarded the following:

 

Purple Heart

World War I Victory Medal with Champagne Marne battle clasp

World War Victory Button in Silver

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  • 1 year later...
I just wanted to speak to the extenuating circumstances of this case which were not included in the media coverage.
There was extensive genealogical research that had to be completed before the case was even considered, and it has now been worked on by four generations. All descendants are accounted for, so, no, there are no “cousins” to doubly claim the award. Aside from those in the video, there are only six more living relatives, all of which have been notified.
Michael and his two siblings were orphaned in 1908. His brother and sister had just been released from an orphanage when Michael died in action in the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne Forest in 1918; he left behind no spouse or children.
Michael’s brother died in 1938 (and his two children were orphaned in 1940).
Michael’s sister worked for years to produce the proper paperwork for the award, but could not do so. One of her three children, Alice, continued her work, even traveling to France in an attempt to locate the grave; she was not able to do so. The woman you see speaking in the video is me. My family and I brought the search into the digital age after corresponding with Alice in an effort to find the names of my great-great grandparents. When she told me about her and her mother's search for Michael's grave, I took up her research. I was able to locate Michael’s draft card and grave site through digitized microfilm records and the military database of deceased servicemen. Alice was delighted and agreed to have us file for Michael’s recognition through their Congressional office in light of the new information. She also sent prior correspondence she had held with the U.S. Army, dating back several decades. These documents stated that, while Michael would be eligible, without living next of kin (since her mother had passed) there was nothing to be done. Alice, however, in her mother’s footsteps and her uncle’s memory, held tight to the quest. She died two years before the Congressman agreed to recognize Michael’s service. My grandmother, pictured in the ceremony, did not survive the year.
The physical medals were above and beyond the recognition requested.

 

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