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WIA vs KIA Purple Heart groups


Garth Thompson

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Garth Thompson

I recently posted three nice named or identified WIA Purple Heart groups on the forum FS section at what I think are very fair prices and have gotten zero interest. Therefore I would like to pose a question to the Purple Heart enthusiasts. Why are nice named WIA Purple Hearts and groups valued less than the KIA ones? Often the only differance is one guy was just luckier than the guy next to him. Are a wounded serviceman's medals valued less because he survived, came home and carried on with his life?

 

Garth

 

**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

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I have WIA and KIAs in my collection and appreciate both. I think with WIA groups people get scared because they think the group was pieced together since the medals are not engraved.

 

Pete

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Garth,

 

I feel that the dfferance in value is based on the research potential. I personally find that in most cases, KIA's are more easily researched. In another words, there is more information as far as unit, date of injury, location etc. on KIA's, than there is on non POW WIA's. The biggest problem that you have is that because of that fire in 1973, most of the records are missing from the National Archives. So, unless you have some information from the family, the chances of finding unit information on any WIA is slim. I personally have 36 named WIA Purple Hearts. Of those, I only have unit info on 10. That is only because 8 of those were POW's, so I was able to gather some info from the NARA. The other 2 came with documents from the family, so I have the unit info from those documents. For all I know, I may have 2 or 3 WIA airborne D-day hearts in with that 36. The problem is proving it!! So for now, they are just named WIA Purple Hearts with no unit info attached. Hope this helps.

 

 

PS - This response refers only to Army/Army Air Corp Purple Hearts. I find that Marine Corp and Navy Purple Hearts are more easily researched, even if they are WIA.

 

Chester

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I think Chester hit the nail on the head at least from my point of view. Posthumously awarded gallantry medals are researchable due to IDPFs, citations, award cards, etc, etc and other sources since so many Army service jackets were destroyed in the fire.

 

For me, since my father was a WWII veteran, it has always been learning more about the person behind the award. I too have a number WIA medal groupings but they usually accompany original papers, documents and/or photos. Also all Navy/USMC research attempts can be very successful too. I use to collect only posthumous awards since 1. they were officially engraved so you knew they were what they were, and 2. you could research them. But I eventually branched out into collecting all type of groupings that, at the very least, had some original information.

 

After collecting for 20+ years...I'm generally looking for groupings that are very complete. Doesn't mean I'd pass up a D-Day or Pearl Harbor or etc gallantry award though !! The fact is I probably have way too many single Purple Hearts than I probably should have but I really enjoyed researching them. I have many that I still need to research...just not enough time !!

 

Vic

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Good discussion. I agree with the previous points about being a bit easier to research the KIA as opposed to the named WIA PHs. For un-named ones it is very easy, as Pete pointed out, for shady seller to just throw a group together since so many WIA Hearts were not named.

I also think maybe it has to do somewhat with the emotion attached to KIA Hearts. The service of those WIA is just as honorable and not lessened any by "only being wounded" but there is more emotion and reverence that is involved with the ultimate sacrifice of those KIA.

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Collectors set the value of what is the most desirable to collect. We all have areas of interest, from Posthumous Purple Hearts and Valor awards, to Numbered Campagin medals. The meaning of the Purple Heart is felt in degrees as well. A WIA Heart awarded to one's father is very different then a stranger's Posthumous Purple Heart.

 

We ALL talk about heroism, selflessness, courage and the like.....but we aren't willing to PAY for it unless we can get money back for it.

**PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMMUNITY MEMBER HAS SADLY PASSED AWAY**

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/301020-robin-ray/

 

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I think that both Pete & Chester have described the dilemma I have had over the years collecting KIA vs. WIA Purple Hearts - Research is difficult on a WIA and unless there is a lot of original documents, I generally steer away from them.

 

But....WIA groups do come along that you need to buy with your "heart" and not your "head" - never say never!

 

Bill

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I would buy either without holding them on different levels

 

While the research aspect probably drives the price up, as serious collectors are willing to spend bigger bucks, there's a lot of people out there who worship the PH just as others worship the CMOH, and I think some of those collectors have a macabre purpose for buying KIA over WIA. Death fascinates people. Notice the images of dead Germans and Japanese, or German photos of dead Russians, Jews and Partisans tend to demand premium prices in comparison to other photos, even more so than grave marker photos.

 

Also, availability. There were far more WIA than there were KIA, just as WWI hearts demand more than WWII in most cases. Supply and demand In the Army and AAF, the total counts (according to Wikipedia) were 318,274 KIA and 565,861 WIA...nearly 250,000 more WIA than KIA. Also, I'm sure KIA tends to stay in the family more often than WIA, as it was the last physical reminder of their loved one

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