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Purple Heart KIA Question


The CoPilot

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The CoPilot

Has anyone here ever heard of a situation where a serviceman (and in this case an officer) was killed in action and his next-of-kin received a Purple Heart that was not engraved with his name?

 

Here's a summary of the situation:

 

My grandfather's brother enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII. He had advanced to the rank of 1st Lieutenant when the Korean War broke out and was transferred to an Air Force base in Japan. In July of 1950 he as piloting an F-80 aircraft over North Korea and engaging ground targets when his plane was hit by enemy ground fire. He ejected from the plane but his parachute was not seen to open before he disappeared from view. He was officially declared MIA. Almost two years later US forces were able to reach the crash site and recover what were believed to be his remains which had been interred by the local villagers (the aircraft wreckage had been removed by the North Koreans). His status was then changed to KIA and the government sent his widow his Purple Heart and the Air Medal. Both medals were accompanied by award certificates. They also sent one of those KIA certificates with Harry S Truman's signature. But interestingly, the medals were not engraved with his name. I've spoken with his widow and she confirmed that she never received any engraved medals. I know that this is not the typical condition for KIA medals and was wondering anyone had every heard of another situation like this?

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dhcoleterracina

Sounds odd, mistakes have occurred in engraving errors but I've never of the total failure to engrave. It seems possible but the more likely answer might be that another family member made off with the engraved pieces and exchanged them with readily available blank medals.

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The CoPilot
It seems possible but the more likely answer might be that another family member made off with the engraved pieces and exchanged them with readily available blank medals.

 

I'd would have suspected this too, except that his widow told me that she never received engraved medals from the government. Her memory is still very good and she has told me more than once that the medals she received did not have his name engraved on them. I was very specific in asking her about this and told her that it was unusual they they were not engraved since he was KIA. There is no motive for her not to tell me the truth about it, so I have to believe her.

 

Guess it wouldn't hurt for me to post a "wanted" notice in the "reuniting broken medal groups" thread on the off chance that engraved medals with his name on them are floating around out there someplace. Had these medals been engraved, the inscription on the PH and Air Medal would have read "Eugene R. Hansen".

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The CoPilot

Anyone else heard of another "failure to engrave" situation???

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Just my 2 cents, but the Air Force has never been consistent with their engraving policy, I have not seen an Air Force engraved group for a MIA/KIA for Korea, however I have seen named Commendation Medals to living (Air Force) awardees for the same time period.

 

Had he been KIA in WWII, the usual Army rules would have applied. I suspect that engraving was done by local units there may not have been an engraver on contract from wherever the medals came from.

 

A lot of people don't know this, but the marine Corps stopped engraving KIA Purple Hearts after 1968 due to the large amount of casualties from the TET Offensive

 

Bill

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The CoPilot
Just my 2 cents, but the Air Force has never been consistent with their engraving policy, I have not seen an Air Force engraved group for a MIA/KIA for Korea, however I have seen named Commendation Medals to living (Air Force) awardees for the same time period.

 

Had he been KIA in WWII, the usual Army rules would have applied. I suspect that engraving was done by local units there may not have been an engraver on contract from wherever the medals came from.

 

A lot of people don't know this, but the marine Corps stopped engraving KIA Purple Hearts after 1968 due to the large amount of casualties from the TET Offensive

 

Bill

 

Interesting... Thank you for the response, Bill!

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316th FS 324th FG

My buddy was KIA on 9/11 at the Pentagon. His parents received his Purple Heart, which was not engraved. He was USN.

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KASTAUFFER

I have owned/seen hundreds of posthumous Army and AAF WWII groups, and all had named Purple Hearts. I suppose it is possible some could have slipped through the cracks. The most common mistakes I have seen are mis-spellings of names. During WWII there was a process in place to make sure a named medal was presented, but mistakes are possible.

 

The most common scenario I have seen is when an un-named Purple Heart is present because the soldier received one because he was WIA and presented a medal prior to being KIA. In those cases a named medal was also present in the group.

 

On other medals besides the Purple Heart if a soldier was presented one prior to being KIA, a named one may not have been re-issued. If an OLC was awarded after the soldier was killed, many times a named medal was re- issued with an OLC. In my experience a named Purple Heart was always issued regardless if one had been presented before due to wounds.

 

The USAF may have done things differently in Korea.

 

Kurt

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  • 10 years later...
The CoPilot
On 6/2/2010 at 8:07 PM, USMCR79 said:

Just my 2 cents, but the Air Force has never been consistent with their engraving policy, I have not seen an Air Force engraved group for a MIA/KIA for Korea, however I have seen named Commendation Medals to living (Air Force) awardees for the same time period.

 

Had he been KIA in WWII, the usual Army rules would have applied. I suspect that engraving was done by local units there may not have been an engraver on contract from wherever the medals came from.

 

A lot of people don't know this, but the marine Corps stopped engraving KIA Purple Hearts after 1968 due to the large amount of casualties from the TET Offensive

 

Bill

 

Bill (or anyone else who might want to jump in here with comments):


I just wanted to revisit your post (above) from all the way back in 2010, and am wondering if you have learned anything additional about the USAF posthumous medals policy during the Korean War?  Eugene was shot down 7/8/1950.  His remains were recovered in the fall of 1951 and sent to a lab in Japan for identificaiton confirmation.  Identificaiton was confirmed and KIA status was announced to our family on 2/27/1952.  The medal transmittal letter indicates that his widow (my great aunt) was transmitted his PH on 9/2/1952 and mentions "...has requested me me to transmit to you the Purple Heart which has been awarded posthumously to your husband, First Lieutenant Eugene R. Hansen..." (see attached image of the transmittal letter). 

 

Anyway, my great-aunt (who passed away in 2017) was insistent until the day she died that the medals (Air Medal and Purple Heart) that she received from the government in 1952 were not engraved on the back with Eugene's name (and I asked her multiple times about this very specifically becuase I thought it seemed very unusual).  Assuming she was tell me the truth, this would have been highly unusual (I believe) as most posthumous PHs were engraved, even at that time period.

 

Is anyone aware of a situation where a KIA posthumous PH (USAF or otherwise) was awarded to the family unengraved?  Thanks in advance for any comments and discussion along these lines.

 

Matt

1952 09 03 Laurence S. Kuter to Florence Purple Heart Medal award.jpg

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The CoPilot

I should also add that I have been in touch with David Schwind and have shared with him copies of my great uncles IDPF and OMPF along with other documentation on the receipts of the awards (award certificates, telegrams, etc).  Dave’s opinion is that the award of the PH is clearly posthumous in this case and that the medal transmitted to the family SHOULD HAVE been engraved.  
 

I respect Dave’s opinion as well as his extensive experience with posthumous PHs of all eras.  Dave said an unengraved posthumous PH would be unprecedented.  So that means one of two things: 1) My great aunt was not  telling me the truth about the PH being unengraved, and that the PH I received from her was a replacement, or 2) this is one of the few (and perhaps only times an unengraved posthumous PH was sent to a family.

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Wharfmaster

My opinion?  Continue your search for a named Purple Heart. 

 

 

 

W

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The CoPilot
1 minute ago, Wharfmaster said:

My opinion?  Continue your search for a named Purple Heart. 

 

 

 

W

Thank you.  And I will absolutle do that.  I have also posted my "searching for" information to Purple Hearts Reunited.  Are you aware of any other places online where I might also post this where it might have a good chance of being seen by someone researching a named PH that they have come across?

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