There seem to be many contradictory reports in the media on Trump being gifted a Purple Heart. Aside from the fact that it was no doubt a publicity stunt, was the medal real or a copy. I can’t find any concrete proof on the matter. It appears to be a copy. But I’m not sure.
I look forward to your feedback.
“Following Trump’s statement, NBC reporter Katy Tur tweeted that she had spoken with Dorfman and that he said the medal he gave to Trump was a copy of the one awarded to him.”
“As Donald Trump was gifted a Purple Heart (either a real medal or a replica) from a veteran in August 2016, the Republican Presidential nominee was also criticized for saying that he had “always wanted” a Purple Heart, an award that is only bestowed upon those wounded while serving in the U.S. military.”
Bear_Nenno. Can you tell me if the veteran gave Trump his own medal? The Purple Heart was a commercial product? Never knew that until now.
You can lie about getting one
You Can Lie About Getting a Purple Heart, But Don’t Wear It
use replicas http://www.purpleheart.org/Downloads/Bank/Headquarters/EmblemPolicy.pdf
ARTICLE XV, Section 11 (Use of Purple Heart) provides guidance on the use of replicas and facsimiles of the Purple Heart, as well as some guidance on the use of the MOPH emblem. The guidance on the use of the emblem, however, is lacking in specific detail; an amendment to the Bylaw will be offered at the 2010 National Convention:
and buy original ones?
Purple Heart Medal
Here at army surplus world we carry the purple heart medal, the purple heart miniature medal, the purple heart ribbon, the purple heart lapel pin and the purple heart hat device. The purple heart medal is made in the USA. The purple heart medal is official military issue. The purple heart medal is awarded as an entitlement entitled upon being killed or wounded in a manner meeting the specific criteria of AR 600-8-22: (1) In any action against an enemy of the U.S.; (2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the U.S. 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 U.S. is not a belligerent party; (4) As a 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 March 28, 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the U.S.; (7) After March 28, 1973, as a result of military operations, while serving outside the territory of the U.S. as part of a peacekeeping force; (8) After December 7, 1941, by weapon fire while directly engaged in armed conflict, regardless of the fire causing the wound; (9) While held as a prisoner of war or while being taken captive. Additionally, individuals wounded or killed as a result of friendly fire in the heat of battle will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the “friendly” projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment. Order your purple heart medal today. Instituted: 1932 Devices: Bronze oak leaf cluster, silver oak leaf
The Second World War cost John Henckel his life. The Purple Heart medal he earned for his valiant death comes far cheaper.
the genuine article
For $395, you can buy the award the Army granted posthumously to Henckel, an Army private from Texas, who was killed in action in the Philippines on Jan. 30, 1945.
That’s the price quoted at BayStateMilitaria.com, a combat collectibles site that lists 12 Purple Hearts for sale, ranging from $90 for an unnamed, World War II medal “in nice condition” on up to Henckel’s ribbon.
"The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members – the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.
There is absolutely no way for anyone but the veteran himself to know this. These medals are not personalized or individualized in any way. While the veteran was probably given a medal to go along with his award of the Purple Heart, it was just a commercial, off the shelf product. The awards are not engraved or serialized or anything like that. Nothing can distinguish a “copy” from the actual specific medal he was given at the ceremony. And that is assuming there even was a ceremony, which isn’t guaranteed. It also assumes that, if there was a ceremony, he was actually able to keep that medal afterwards. Less often with Purple Hearts, but very often with lesser medals, the recipients are pinned with medals at a ceremony and then have to hand them back at the end so they can be used in a future ceremony. Saves money, you see. And the soldier who was awarded the medal just goes and buys that particular medal, if he even wants one. Since on our uniforms, we pretty much only wear the ribbons which represent the medals, most people don’t buy the medals.
“Copy” just isn’t the right word, and it suggests that a particular medal was made or engraved specifically for this soldier. If that soldier has more than one set of dress uniforms, complete with medals, they will each have identical purple heart medals on them. There will be no way to distinguish any of those medals from the actual medal pinned on him at a ceremony. He might keep that particular medal on his desk or shelf at home or something for sentimentality. But there is nothing beyond that sentimental value that distinguishes it from any other.
It’s kind of like when someone is trying to sell a guitar for 10 times what it is actually worth because they claim some famous Rock Star owned it. Sports memorabilia also comes to mind. Without proof of provenance, you’re just taking their word for it. There’s nothing that distinguishes that guitar, or those purple hearts from any other except the emotional connection or value you’ve placed on them.
Also, I just checked the link to the story in the OP and noticed the discrepancy about telling Trump that it isn’t a copy, and telling the reporter that it is. This makes perfect sense as the question itself is nonsensical. Yes it is a real medal that I have worn on my real uniform to represent the actual Orders awarding me the purple heart. So it is in fact the “real thing”. However, it is not the particular medal that was handed to me at the ceremony in Iraq. That medal is in my curios cabinet. I’ve never actually worn that one, because I don’t want it to get lost or damaged. So I wear these other ones that I’ve purchased, instead of the one purchased by someone back then to present to me at a ceremony. So in that sense, it is not “the actual physical medal that was handed to me at a ceremony”.
Soldiers do not make a distinction between medals pinned versus medals purchased. They have either been earned or they haven’t. Once you earn a medal, you buy as many of them as you want or need to ensure you always have a sharp uniform with clean, serviceable medals or ribbons. If anything, you’re going to keep your ceremony medal on cabinet or something. Maybe frame it. The ones you wear though, are they not the “real medal” as well?
It’s hard for him to answer questions that don’t really make sense.
Thank you Bear_Nennop. Very helpful answers. I wonder if the reporters themselves are aware of this. " Once you earn a medal, you buy as many of them as you want or need to ensure you always have a sharp uniform with clean, serviceable medals or ribbons. If anything, you’re going to keep your ceremony medal on cabinet or something."
I had thought that the US government had commissioned the manufacture of a bunch of Purple Heart medals back in WWII, and that they were still going through that supply (or at least, were until very recently). That doesn’t sound consistent with them being a commercial, off-the-shelf product.
Well, it could be that the stock that the government purchased back then is the stock out of which they source medals for award ceremonies. But, as we learn in this thread, their practice is mostly to recycle the medals used at award ceremonies, which would explain why the stock has lasted such a long time. Soldiers who want to own a medal, and certainly to own more than one, buy medals, presumably not from the government stock, but produced privately (possibly under licence from the US government?)
I would not say the practice is to mostly recycle medals. I’ve seen it happen but I have always been able to keep medals I have been awarded except for things like good conduct medals which are often not even presented in a ceremony. As Bear mentioned earlier the medals themselves are rarely used. Unless you are in a ceremonial unit or at a very fancy event your dress uniform usually only has ribbons and no medals. In fact other than at Arlington I have never seen anyone wear full medals.(not saying it doesn’t happen, it is authorized, I just have never seen it) Mini-medals are worn on some dress uniforms. Those are always purchased never presented. But bottom line, I can go on base and purchase any medal not including the MoH at the military clothing sale store. And of course you can get anything online.
Agree with Bear_Nenno, both can be true: he could have received a gift of a medal other than the one formally presented to the veteran, but still an honest to regulations one the veteran would be authorized to wear in uniform, as opposed to some sort of costume replica. So one can see how he may have interpreted Trump’s question along the line of is this a real medal you earned, while interpreting the reporter’s as was* this* the medal pinned on you.
I suppose it would sound awkward in the time and place to say “it’s one of the spares I keep”, even if as stated, many people do. This is something to bear in mind though whenever there are medal-centric political stunts such as making a gift like this or “returning” them. Further commentary on *this *event reserved for non-GQ thread.
Trump said he always wanted a Purple Heart. That’s just like Trump, and so unlike any normal candidate, who would take the opportunity to praise that vet, and all other recipients. If Trump’s election loss was guaranteed, this would be a really fun campaign to watch. As it is, it’s just depressing.
exactly - he could have turned this into something positive -
“No - you earned that - I missed my opportunity to serve in the armed forces, so I have not earned the right to have this - you have - as have many, indeed too many, of our service members today” <stands back to salute>. When I’m elected, I’ll work hard to ensure that our veterans get the benefits they deserve as well as work to insure that our troops are not sent to areas of conflict they do not belong.
In day-to-day use, you might wear your ribbons on a ribbon bar on your uniform of the day. (Assuming the UoD is amenable to ribbon bars. Fatigue/battledress isn’t., but “around the office” uniform combinations are.)
You wear medals in uniform for specific ceremonial or formal occasions. The full-sized medal is pinned to your duty uniform if there’s an award ceremony. You don’t wear those otherwise. In certain formal uniforms (mess dress, for instance), you actually wear miniature versions of the medals you were awarded instead of the ribbon equivalent.
Once you leave the service, the ribbons don’t have as much value. You don’t wear them unless you have need or desire to wear the uniform even when you don’t have to. And you don’t display them (such as in a shadow box) because the actual medals carry the personal-historical (or sentimental) value of the award so are more likely to be retained after service.
Wherever they came from, the point is that anyone with a military ID could walk into their local clothing sales shop, pull a purple heart off the rack, and pay the $50 or whatever it costs. The cashier is not going to ask for a citation or DD214 or anything like that. It’s just a product that we have to buy, like boots or t-shirts or nametags. And if we don’t feel like trucking down to clothing sales, we could just buy it online, and so could you for that matter. Now whether or not they’re going to ship you something from WWII I don’t know; I’d doubt it at this point, which isn’t to say there’s still some kicking around in inventory but I imagine that there’s an ample supply of new ones as well.
I’ve seen costume purple hearts made of plastic that looked real from a distance, but if you were within about 4 feet, it was pretty obvious they were toys. They’re made because some kids want to have a uniform like their parents, and want to have medals and ribbons, but you don’t want to buy a little kid actual decorations, or maybe someone needs one for a school play.
However, if it looks real close up, it probably did come from an award or clothing and sales, either directly, or by way of eBay.
There are plenty of them floating around. For example, when I graduated basic, one of my classmates was given he grandfather’s purple heart by her family. She was the first person to enter the military since her grandfather fought in Korea, and so the family decided she deserved to be the keeper of the medal (her grandfather was deceased).
My husband was awarded a good conduct medal when he was discharged from active duty in Iraq. He gave the ceremonial medal to his father, then went and bought another at clothing and sales in case he ever needed one for his uniform.
“Real” could mean did the veteran who gave it to Trump get wounded himself, or did he come by the medal some other way? Someone who was never wounded himself, but had a relative’s medal, say, might be described as not having a “real” one. Or someone who bought it on eBay, even if he bought it from someone who came by it honestly, might be described as not having a “real” medal.