Marine’s Unit Puts Him in for Purple Heart

| August 20, 2018

According to the Marine Corps Times, the Marine was shot in the head. However, the bullet bounced off his helmet. He’s being put in for a Purple Heart. Would a CAR be more appropriate?

According to the NYT article (below) he was seen by a medic as standard procedure and returned to duty thereafter, per Maj. Joshua C. Benson, a Marine Corps spokesman, in an email.

There is insufficient information in the MC Times article to form a real opinion this. It does not say that he was hit hard enough to develop a concussion from the impact, only that the round bounced off of his helmet. That could generate a concussion, or leave him unconscious, or damage his hearing sufficiently to impair his ability to do his job in the field.

So did the Marine in the 325th get a concussion, or was he rendered unconscious briefly? The article just doesn’t say, and I’m not willing to compromise anyone’s security over there by sticking my nose into it.

This New York Times article does have a small amount of additional information, however, including news that an Army Special Forces soldier was killed in a roadside bomb attack during that same time period.

Category: Marine Corps

Comments (58)

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  1. Doc Savage says:

    I have seen similar grounds for awarding purples hearts; When I was in Iraq, concussions or “suspected” concussions were the norm due to the prevalence of IED’s.

    The critea for the purple heart states “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 made a matter of official record.”

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      It’s a mess when it comes to Purple Hearts w/o apparent physical damage. Unless something changed, the services did not have a uniform standard for concussions. The Army required an “explosion” so a bullet grazing not touching skin would not get it. It’s a tough issue b/c when most of us think of a Purple Heart, we think in terms of those who lost life or limb or otherwise suffered a bullet or shrapnel wound. When some lucky SOB who gets a round grazing off his helmet gets a headache, well, it’s not so easy, especially since concussions are so commonplace in football/lacrosse/rugby players. A single standard, crossing all services AND applied equally would be nice.

    • Dave says:

      The Marine Corps has rewritten their regulations on PH qualifications concerning concussions. The Army is following suit, but has not completed the regulations yet.
      Due to the cumulative effect of concussive blast waves, those who dealt with IED’s on a regular basis were more susceptible to worsening concussions from smaller blasts. While in theater some units wouldn’t write up Soldiers or Marines unless they had Grade 3 concussions.
      There is some evidence available from concussion studies that show numerous Grade 1 concussions can be as bad as a Grade 3 concussion.
      It got to the point in my company that if a blast detonated during our route clearance mission, everyone on that mission had to go get checked out because guys were going out night after night with concussions, claiming they were doing fine.
      There are Soldiers who still have paperwork from the many times they had to get checked out. Unfortunately the medicos refused to use different words in their MACE test, the same 5 words that every Route Clearance team member memorized. Apple, Saddle, Table, Bubble, Elbow.

      For more information on concussions and their lasting effects, and CTE studies visit

  2. USAF (Ret) says:

    A question:

    If a person got shot in the Chest and his vest and armor plate stopped the round would that be considered a reason for a Purple Heart? If yes then the same applies to his helmet.

    I believe that both would have earned a Purple Heart and a big cleaning bill for underwear.

    • MSG Eric says:

      But for a chest hit he’d have a huge bruise on his chest, possibly bruised ribs. So that’d be easier to identify as compared to a bullet ricochet off a helmet.

      Not enough information on this one though, tough to say for sure without all the details.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Requires medical treatment

    • desert says:


  3. 26Limabeans says:

    I always thought it required the presence of blood. Guess I was always wrong.
    Fucking John Kerry notwithstanding.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      You do know that you can break your own skin with one of your fingernails, right?

      How hard would it be for someone who wanted that “status” to do that so that he could get it?

      Ever wonder if sKerry broke a nail over there?

      • MSG Eric says:

        Well, some of those older typewriters were pretty brutal on fingers and nails from what I’ve heard. So he probably did break more than one.

      • Ex-PH2 says:

        Now that is truly funny!

        • 5th/77thFA says:

          Been led to believe that paper cuts and ribbon ink stains were a constant clear and present danger. Might have been why so many records were “pencil” whipped.

      • Dwight Schwarz says:

        Times have changed or so it seems. Having listened to Vets from WWI and WWII in the distant past, seems that if there ain’t no Steel than it ain’t real and no Purple Heart, back then.

        • USAF (Ret) says:

          I have a friend who was in the Korean War who has a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star from a splinter in his ass from the side rails from a truck.

          I have seen the Citations from both.

          So it does not have to be steel.

      • Bill M says:

        Three times (at least).

        Also, has to be as the result of enemy action, unlike a certain flamer blowing up rice with a grenade and catching a kernel in the *ss.

  4. FatCircles0311 says:

    Had a marine get shot, vest stopped it, no injury, no Purple Heart.

    • OldManchu says:

      Yeah, but you Marines do worse to each other than that with pugil sticks in boot camp. 🙂

  5. Dwight Schwarz says:

    Purple Hearts are supposed to be a somewhat highly esteemed Award for one to receive. Danny has it noted on his grave stone as to getting blown off the side of a tank during TET, survived and passed a few years ago. Kenny had just returned to duty after being WIA when he was KIA during TET and is no mention as to any Purple Hearts on his grave marker. I was offered to be put in for Purple Heart years back when I joined the VA by the VA for a piece of steel in my hand that is lodged between my knuckles, why should I. I returned 50 years ago and the piece of steel arrived in my hand about 43 years ago on the farm as a civilian. Sorry but no thanks.

  6. radar says:

    I don’t know if this is the actual regulation for receiving a CAR, but what we were told when I was in was that you have to have received and effectively returned fire to get one.

  7. OldManchu says:

    So does Bergdahl get a purple heart for the lesions the Taliban left in his rectum?

  8. RetiredDevilDoc8404 says:

    I was hit by shrapnel in the vest, and got concussed pretty good. The vest stopped the fragments. No Purple Heart, and I don’t feel like I deserve one – not when the guy in the vehicle ahead of mine died of his injuries in the same blast. I’m just pissed they took the shrapnel away from me at the CASF when they found out how bad my shoulder was wrecked…

  9. timactual says:

    Jumping Judas. Why not just issue everyone a effing Purple Heart, and a Silver Star while they’re at it, and make it simple. Even PFCs can look as heroic as Gaddafi or a NORK General. The ASrmy can use it as another recruiting tool; join the Army and get to wear 50 pieces of flair! More than any other service!

    Had a Platoon Sgt. in RVN who got shot in the back of the helmet, the round passing between liner and helmet over the top of his head and knocking off his glasses on the way out. No Purple Heart, but he sure was pissed.

    Fortunately he forgave me. And he has a great war story to tell.

    • Old 1SG, US Army (retired) says:


    • 26Limabeans says:

      Back when I used to get VFW magazine there was always an article (ad) about some medal I qualified for. Cold war was a biggie.
      Reminded me of the “commemorative” 1911A1’s for just about every battle or occasion.
      Or the Franklin Mint plates.
      Funny, you don’t see the posers sportin those medals. Somebody outta market a kit where you can make your own ribbons.
      Forging Frank has the citations, you decide the colors.

  10. timactual says:

    Looks to me like the Marines are a bit disappointed they have not made their quota of PHs and CARs and are trying their best to get there. Can’t have a friggin’ war without PHs or CARs, can we?

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      I hope they let the guy keep the helmet. Purple Hearts are not desired by normal service-peoples. Those who must insist that they deserve one are probably the least deserving of one. Maybe it’s time to establish classes of them, with Class 1 reserved for loss of life, Class 2 for loss of limb, eyesight, serious TBI, and wounds requiring hospitalization in excess of a few days, and Class 3 for all other injuries, including concussions, scrapes, scratches, breaks, and almosts.

  11. JURASSICHM says:

    Saw one guy try to get a Purple Heart for a sprained ankle. He injured his ankle when he jumped off a truck while we were taking fire. He wasn’t actually in close proximity to any incoming or outgoing fire. The Department of the Navy did however award him an ace wrap and some aspirin. Guess that wasn’t enough.

  12. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    Any questions pertaining to being awarded a PH, just ask john kerry. He has all the answers. what happened, today is Monday and I don’t see any phony Seals up for comments.

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      Yeah, his 3 or 4 or 5 Purple Hearts are all right there in his records, along with his Cambodia mission. Thank goodness he waltzed away from his boat and crew to stroll through the jungle with his camerman or we might be doubting whether he was in VN at all.

      • 2/17 Air Cav says:

        Or was it Laos?

      • Old 1SG, US Army (retired) says:

        Don’t even get me started on “I’m John F. Kerry, I served in the Viet of the Nam.” This guy is a effing looser…

        From his treasonous statement before congress:

        “They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan…”

        Someone should hook up TA-312 to his genitals…

  13. John D says:

    Had a brother-in-law (Gone, now), who’d really get reddened in the face when asked about his Purple Heart, awarded in Viet of the Nam.
    Like, embarrassed red.

    Finally, one afternoon after a couple, I said “I’ve got it- you got shot in the ass, didn’t ya?”
    Well, I was right- and for as long as he lived, he wished he’d never heard of Purple Hearts.

  14. John D says:

    ETA(Wish we could edit our posts): Meant to say, he’d never talk about it.

  15. GDContractor says:

    In August of 2012, a VBIED right outside the perimeter COP Sayed Abad was detonated. They estimated it was the equivalent of 10K lbs of TNT. There was at least one death as a result, but the KIA were Afghans that lived on post. The only injury among any soldiers that I heard of was a Corporal who was sleeping in the motor pool shop building in a loft, and the building collapsed and he fractured his arm. I was told that all of the soldiers were getting “put in” for the PHM. I don’t know how that worked out. This was the third time in 5 years (I think) that a VBIED had been detonated right up against the perimeter wall. Most of the COP was on built on high ground, with that section of the perimeter being the lowest ground. The shock wave flattened a lot of buildings, ruptured some connexes, and dropped the LM Aerostat right out of the air.

  16. 5th/77thFA says:

    Never wanted one, didn’t earn one, and damn sure glad they didn’t send one to Mama!

  17. OldCorpsTanker72 says:

    Was talking to an old Marine last year. He told me that to get a Purple Heart in WWII, you had to be hospitalized for at least 48 hours. (He was hospitalized for 26 months, and still has the shriveled arm to prove it.)

  18. David says:

    Dad always worried that since he didn’t have a Purple Heart he couldn’t be buried in Arlington…the one time he was injured by a shell fragment it put a clean slice across the back of his neck, and the doc hurriedly threw in a few stitches and sent him back. I told him the Bronze Star and active duty from Dec. 8 1941 to 1946 would suffice, and they did.

    • 100E says:

      In Vietnam, all that was needed was for your name to be listed on the ‘Casualty Feeder Report’ as combat wounded. That’s how Kerry received his, without missing a few days of duty. Many from WW-2 didn’t receive what would have been a legitimate award of the PH.

  19. 100E says:

    Sorry, and nothing against the Marine, but the criteria for the PH needs to remain as is. There is a campaign to award the PH to PTSD sufferers. While PTSD exists, it has become the ‘back injury’ of the military. It’s difficult to disprove, and can be claimed years after the triggering event. Traumatic brain injury from an IED qualifies, but the foggy cases should be excluded.

  20. Jim Hubbard says:

    I shared a foxhole in Vietnam with a kid who had his earlobe clipped by a piece of shrapnel from a VC 82 mm mortar. The battalion XO said to put him in for a purple heart. I did so. I don’t think he ever saw a medic. I agree with the XOs decision.

  21. mr.sharkman says:

    It’s a slippery slope, for certain, and a very personal decision/standard/etc. The general attitudes of the guys at the unit in qurstion plays a part as well.

    The general ‘vibe’ among the guys I was prowling around with…

    Did you get seriously fvcked up? If yes, then a PH is on the way.

    Did you not get seriously fvcked up, but only because of unbelievable good fortune? If yes, then a PH is on the way.

    Was it only a flesh wound, with no potential to wind up seriously fvcked up? If yes, I’ll be passing on the Bad Luck Charm today. Don’t sweat it.

    I know many guys who are like-minded – where accepting a PH for a few scratches guarantees ‘bad luck’. Kind of like The Fates saying ‘Well a PH isn’t really necessary, we’ll make certain you ‘earn’ the next PH.

    I know more than a few guys that were like-minded. If I was rocking multiple PHs for some trumped-up scratches, I’d feel like a true POS if I wound up standing at attention next to a double amputee, with 1 PH at a Veteran’s Day event/ceremony/etc. The dreaded question…’Where’d you get hit, Brother?’

    Answer ‘Ummm, well, I had to get 4 stitches on my calf, and…’ Well no fvcking way that’s ever going to happen.

    And it’s a slippery slope descending int massive gray area. If 2 7.62×65 R AP hit my titanium plate and failed to penetrate – well, no need for a PH, thankyaverymuch. If I walked it off over the next 4 minutes, ‘no harm no foul no PH’, right?

    But like I said, it’s a very personal decision. If one of you TAH Brothers is reading this, and was awarded a PH for a thru-and-thru on one of his calves, rock that PH. You earned it, and a couple inches to either side and you’d be sans 1 leg at the knee.

    I know of close to 100 PH that were ‘declined’.

    Personally, I think WW2 Germany was the best applicable ‘system’ to ever be implemented.

    For the record, I’ve never been awarded the PH. I’ve got a dozen or more Brothers who earned their PH at terrible cost.

  22. Dave says:

    Our company working Route Clearance in Ramadi 2006-07 had about 50% of the company awarded PH’s. Most for concussions, but as I said in another comment here, a lot of the guys would Fake their way through the MACE test so they could keep going on mission.
    After 3 concussions a Soldier would have been no longer able to go outside the wire, we had one Soldier who did have 3 PH’s due to concussions. Another Soldier with 2 PH concussions and a broken coccyx.

    After reading the comments on this thread it almost sounds like getting a PH is an embarrassment, it may just be my imagination though.

    • mr.sharkman says:

      ‘After reading the comments on this thread it almost sounds like getting a PH is an embarrassment, it may just be my imagination though.’

      If it was my post that caused you to ponder this, that was in no way my intention.

      With sincere apologies-

  23. rgr769 says:

    This story proves that the PH can really only be an enemy marksmanship award. Back in the days of the Viet of the Nam, no wound from enemy fire, no Purple Heart, period. I was once asked by some Army doc in the states to approve a PH for one of the men in my company who had been shot through his ballsack. I refused because he had been shot by our bunker guards while trying to sneak through the wire to go to the whorehouse in the “Ville.”

  24. timactual says:

    The Purple Heart is an interesting medal. All the others require heroism or doing something above and beyond…. The Purple Heart only requires bad luck, stupidity, or incompetence.

    On the other hand, Kerry brand PHs do require chutzpah above and beyond the norms of decency. I will wager his comrades were happy to see Kerry get that third one, though, since it got him out of their sight.

  25. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I’ve done two tours in the Middle East, another in Korea and saw the Purple Heart as one Medal I didn’t want to qualify for, I saw it as an Enemy Marksmanship Medal.