Photo courtesy of DoD

On Purple Heart Day: 7 facts you didn't know about the Purple Heart

August 06, 2019 - 1:25 pm

The Purple Heart was established in 1782 — and has been awarded to an estimated 1.8 million service members, civilians, and courageous animals since.

Here are seven facts you might not have known about the Purple Heart:

1. If you think only humans can receive the medal of honor, you're wrong. Army Sgt. Stubby (above) earned the Purple Heart twice during World War I — once for his actions during a gas attack and once for being wounded by a grenade — after being smuggled into Europe by members of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. 


2. Audie Murphy received the Purple Heart not once, not twice, but three times during World War II. Beyond the Purple Heart, he also received every other combat award for valor available from the Army as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism.  


3. Journalist Erie Pyle is one of the most famous civilians to earn the Purple Heart. Pyle was a war correspondent who covered World War II from the trenches of Europe. He was killed during the Battle of Okinawa. Civilians were eligible to receive the Purple Heart between 1942 and 1997. Today, they receive the Defense of Freedom Medal. 


4. Chief Nurse Beatrice Mary MacDonald lost her right eye when a German aircraft bombed the British Clearing Hospital in Belgium during World War I. She received the Purple Heart for her wounds in 1936 — making her the first woman to receive the Purple Heart. She was also the first woman to earn the Distinguished Service Cross. 


5. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is in New Windsor, New York. The 7,500 square foot facility offers tours and educational programs. 


6. It wasn't just dogs that received Purple Hearts. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Reckless - a horse - received the Purple Heart twice for wounds she received in combat during the Korean War.


7. World War II saw more Purple Hearts awarded than any other conflict — by a lot. In fact, about 1.07 million Purple Hearts were awarded during World War II, more than were awarded in all of the other conflicts of the 20th century combined.

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