Letters to the editor

September 18, 2004

Did John Kerry deserve Purple Hearts? The regs say 'yes'

To the editor:

I would like to try and put to rest some of the controversy surrounding the three Purple Hearts awarded to U.S. Sen. John Kerry during his military service to this country.

It is my feeling, after doing some research on the subject of military awards and reviewing the guidelines that I found in Military Regulations AR-600-8-22 that the senator is totally eligible for the Purple Hearts awarded him.

The criteria for awarding of the Purple Heart to those serving in all branches of service in the U. S. military are:


1. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority, with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded.

a. In any action against an enemy of the United States.

b. In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the armed forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

c. While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

d. As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

e. As the result of an act of hostile foreign forces.

2. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration, rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

a. A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above. But for each subsequent award, an oak leaf cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one wound or injury received at the same or from the same missile, force, explosion or agent.

b. A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above. A physical lesion is not required. However, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been a matter of official record.

c. When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

3. Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

a. Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.

b. Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.

c. Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.

d. Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.

e. Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.

Finally, the Military Regulations AR-600-8-22, appears to place the authorization for awarding the Purple Heart on the shoulders of the commanders. I quote from AR-600-8-22: "It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel." Commanders must also take into consideration the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria.

I hope this will help each of you understand better the guidelines that are required of commanders, before these decorations are awarded to wounded or injured military personnel and yes, even those that were killed in combat and later die from their wounds). Therefore who are we to judge or any one else judge why Sen. Kerry was awarded these three Purple Hearts? As I understand the cited military regulations, a higher authority (like a commander) awarded the decorations to the John Kerry, I am certain John Kerry didn't award the medals to himself.

George Knight
SG E-8 Retired

'Separation' is nowhere in First

To the editor:

I don't know where Kim DeBarge took her constitutional law class, but she needs to get her money back. Any true constitutional law class would have taught her that nowhere in the Constitution will you find the phrase "separation of church and state."

The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion." Now unless there is a cross, Star of David, crescent moon and star or other religious symbol on the U.S. Capitol and Congress says you have to worship whatever that symbol represents, then Congress is not establishing a religion. I would venture to say that there is now more religious freedom in this country than ever before.

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