A. The Purple Heart was established by
General George Washington at Newburgh, New York, on 7 August 1782, during the
Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States
per War Department General Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to
Executive Order 11016, 25 April 1962; Executive Order 12464, 23 February 1984;
Public Law 98-525, 19 October 1984 amended by Public Law 100–48, 1 June 19871;
Public Law 103- 160, 30 November 1993; Public Law 104-106, 10 February 1996; and
Public Law 105-85, 18 November 1997.
B. The Purple Heart is awarded in the
name of the President of the United States and per 10 USC 1131, effective 19 May
1998, is limited to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while
serving under component authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed
Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may
hereafter die after being wounded—
(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) 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.
(3) 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
(4) As the result of an act of any such enemy of opposing Armed Forces.
(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.
(6) After 28 March 1973, as the result of an international terrorist attack
against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States,
recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of Army, or jointly by the
Secretaries of the separate armed services concerned if persons from more than
one service are wounded in the attack.
(7) After 28 March 1973, as the result of military operations while serving
outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.
(8) Members killed or wounded in action by friendly fire. In accordance with 10
USC 1129 for award of the Purple 20 AR 600–8–22 • 11 December 2006 Heart, the
Secretary of the Army will treat a member of the Armed Forces described in (a),
below, in the same manner as a member who is killed or wounded in action as the
result of an act of an enemy of the United States.
(a) A member described in this subsection is a member who is killed or
wounded in action by weapon fire while directly engaged in armed conflict, other
than as the result of an act of an enemy of the United States, unless (in the
case of a wound) the wound is the result of willful misconduct of the member.
(b) This section applies to members of the Armed Forces who are killed or
wounded on or after 7 December 1941. In the case of a member killed or wounded,
as described in paragraph 2–8b above, on or after 7 December 1941 and before 30
November 1993, the Secretary of the Army will award the Purple Heart under
provisions of paragraph 2–8a above in each case which is known to the Secretary
before such date or for which an application is made to the Secretary in such
manner as the Secretary requires.
(c) 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.
(d) 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 award will
be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from
the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.
(e) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an 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 medical personnel and records of medical
treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter
of official record.
(f) 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.
(g) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the
Purple Heart are as follows:
(1) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel,
or other projectile created by enemy action.
(2) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or
(3) Injury caused by enemy released chemical,
biological, or nuclear agent.
(4) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft
accident resulting from enemy fire.
(5) Concussion injuries caused as a result of
enemy generated explosions.
(h) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not justify award of
the Purple Heart are as follows:
(1) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.
(2) Heat stroke.
(3) Food poisoning not caused by enemy
(4) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents
not released by the enemy.
(5) Battle fatigue.
(6) Disease not directly caused by enemy
(7) Accidents, to include explosive,
aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by
(8) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the
heat of battle and not involving gross negligence.
(9) Post traumatic stress disorders.
(10) Jump injuries not caused by enemy
(i) 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. Note the following examples:
(1) In a case such as an individual injured
while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down by
enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused
by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the
award will be made.
(2) Individuals injured as a result of their
own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area
known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up
unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as
they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their
(j) During wartime the senior Army commander in the combat theater can
award the Purple Heart as approval authority when delegated by the Secretary of
the Army. The National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO
63132–5100, awards the Purple Heart to any member of the Army, who during World
War I, was awarded a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate signed by the
Commander in Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, or who was authorized to wear
wound chevrons, upon written application. Approval authority for the Purple
Heart for Army personnel wounded or killed as the result of an international
terrorist attack is the Secretary of the Army. All other requests for award of
the Purple Heart are processed by the Commander, USA HRC (AHRC–PDO–PA). The AR
600–8–22 • 11 December 2006 21 following types of requests for award of the
Purple Heart will be forwarded to the Commander, USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC–PDO–PA, 200
Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332–0471: (1) Any member of the Army who was
awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious achievement or service, as opposed to
wounds received in action, between 7 December 1941 and 22 September 1943, may
apply for award of an appropriate decoration instead of the Purple Heart. (2)
For those who became Prisoners of War during World War II, the Korean War and
before and after 25 April 1962, the Purple Heart will be awarded to individuals
wounded while prisoners of foreign forces, upon submission by the individual to
the Department of the U.S. Army of an affidavit that is supported by a statement
from a witness, if this is possible. (3) Any member of the U.S. Army who
believes that he or she is eligible for the Purple Heart, but through unusual
circumstances no award was made, may submit an application through military
channels, to the Commander, USA HRC, ATTN: AHRC–PDO–PA. The application will
include complete documentation, to include evidence of medical treatment,
pertaining to the wound.
(k) The following rules apply for processing award of the Purple Heart:
(1) The statutory time limits pertaining to
award of military decorations does not apply to the Purple Heart. The Purple
Heart may be awarded at anytime after submission of documented proof that
criteria have been met.
(2) Approved awards of the Purple Heart
require the publication of permanent orders according to AR 600–8–105, citing
each recipient. A DA Form 4980–10 (The Purple Heart Medal Certificate) will
include the following information: The recipient’s name and grade, date wounded
in action, and date certificate is signed. All Purple Heart Medal certificates
will bear the signature and signature block of the Secretary of the Army on the
right side. During wartime, the signature and signature block of the commander
authorized to award the Purple Heart will be on the left side. All other Purple
Hearts awarded will bear the signature and signature block of The Adjutant
General of the Army.
(3) Each approved award of the Purple Heart
must exhibit all of the following factors: wound, injury or death must have been
the result of enemy or hostile act; international terrorist attack; or friendly
fire (as defined in paragraph b(8) above) the wound or injury must have required
treatment by medical officials; and the records of medical treatment must have
been made a matter of official Army records.
(4) Recommendations for award of the Purple
Heart based on alleged international terrorist attacks must be accompanied by a
written evaluation from the MACOM security and intelligence staff officer
indicating that international terrorist activity was involved. Should any
enclosures be classified the prescribed security measures will be followed. This
requirement is in addition to the other eligibility criteria. HQ, USA HRC
(AHRC–PDO–PA) will confirm the international terrorist report with the Office of
the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–2 (ODCS, G-2) prior to forwarding the Purple Heart
recommendations to the Secretary of the Army for final decision. l. The Defense
of Freedom Medal (DOFM), established on 4 October 2001, is the civilian
equivalent to the Purple Heart awarded to U.S. military personnel. Refer to AR
672–20 for criteria and requirements for the DOFM.