10 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2021 9:47 PM by Marianne Cote-Malley

    Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?

    Marianne Cote-Malley Wayfarer

      Does the back of the Purple Heart medal, always have the name of the recipient?  I have my uncle's medal but there is no name. (This question is not resolved)

        • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
          Elliot Schneider Ranger



          Typically if you request or requested medals in the past PH Medal should have a name on the back. If you purchased through a third party or independent website they will sell you the medal but don't have the ability to engrave or this maybe an added cost for some third party military medal distributors.

          • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
            Lisa Sharik Scout

            Among the items in our collection we have two Purple Heart Medals awarded to a Pvt. English. He was KIA in October 1944. Both medal sets are complete in the original inner boxes, with original outer boxes, and original wrappers. They were both sent to his widow in 1945. The first Purple Heart medal he received for wounds in June 1944 has no name on the back. The second for the wounds which led to his death in October 1944 does have his name engraved on the back.


            For soldiers Killed in Action, they almost always have engraving on the back (there are certainly exceptions), for soldiers who were wounded but did not die some received medals with engraving on the back, some did not. It could depend on when and where they were awarded, or a number of other conditions. There is nothing wrong with his PH medal not having his name on the back, that is likely how your uncle received it.




            Lisa Sharik

            Deputy Director

            Texas Military Forces Museum

              • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                Marianne Cote-Malley Wayfarer

                Hi Lisa:  I thank you so very much for your additional information. It makes me feel so much better some how, knowing he could just be one of those who were not identified on the back.


                I have never been able to find any service records for my uncle John Lionel Parkin, service #36897066.  He joined the U.S. Army on Jan. 28, 1944 and was honourably discharged on July 17, 1946.  Family story is he did not pass his medical in Canada and so was rejected for the Canadian forces.  He was born in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada but after being wounded became an American Citizen, I believe to be able to continue his treatment in the V. A. hospital without the cost of care.  I was also born in Ont. Canada so am struggling to understand how to find his record.


                Again, thank you so much for your reply.  The hunt continues.  Marianne

                  • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                    Jason Atkinson Guide

                    Dear Ms. Cote-Malley,


                    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                    We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). OMPFs and individual medical reports for enlisted men of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 1912 and before 1959 are in the custody of NARA's National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. In many cases where personnel records were destroyed in the 1973 fire, proof of service can be provided from other records such as morning reports, payrolls, and military orders, and a certificate of military service will be issued. Please complete a GSA Standard Form 180 and mail it to NARA's National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO  63138-1002. If there is any information requested by the form that you do not know, you may omit it or provide estimates (such as for dates), but the more information you provide, the easier it will be to locate the correct file if it survived the fire. For more information see Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Records Requests.


                    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NPRC will continue servicing requests ONLY associated with medical treatments, burials, homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter, and those involving the VA Home Loan program. If your request is urgent, please see Emergency Requests and Deadlines. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until NPRC returns to pre-COVID staffing levels.  Please check archives.gov/veterans for updates to the NPRC operating hours and status. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


                    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

                      • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                        Marianne Cote-Malley Wayfarer

                        Hi Jason:  I have read your detailed reply, and thank you so very much in pointing me in a direction of action.  I appreciate that you incl. the full name of departments and departments.  As both a newbie and non service person I was unfamiliar with the terminology.  Your e-mail has helped in more ways than one and I appreciate your time and effort in getting back to me.  I will at least file a request and see how it starts the ball rolling even if the pandemic slows it to a crawl, I will have at least started the process for my family.  Thank you and take care.  Marianne

                  • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                    Donald Hall Wayfarer

                    Typically, if a medal was issued to you in theater--or even in the states--the names were never engraved.  I spent 30 years on active duty and none of the medals I was issued had my name engraved on them prior to presentation.  On the other hand, after I retired, I requested a "replacement set" from DoD, and they all had my name appropriately engraved on them--but they were issued from the Soldier Support Center in Philadelphia.


                    So the fact that none of his medals have his name on them is not unusual in the least, and I would not read into it, particularly if it was presented to him in a hospital in Vietnam.  Those that were presented further to the rear, in Japan or in the states, might/might have had a name engraved on them, but even that isn't necessarily true, and is more likely the exception rather than the rule.


                    Also, this applies only to personal decorations.  Service medals--the round ones you got for "being there" have never been engraved since the end of World War II, although some of the earlier ones would have an individual's name engraved on the rim.


                    I was the deputy commander of a Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, and I can tell you we had no capability to properly engrave a medal with an individual's name on it, even if we had wanted to, nor did we attempt to.  And that was in 2007-08.

                      • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                        Marianne Cote-Malley Wayfarer

                        Hi Donald:  I feel your answer has once again clarified, at least fore me, that there is no reason for me to worry that his name is not on his medal.  When he was sent back State side, he was in the hospital for over a year and I don't know when his medals were presented..  Although, I do have a picture with him on crutches and with his uniform and bars on but no medals.  I still have the bars for his Victory Medal and European-African-Middle East Medal, but both the medals are missing, so will see if I can get replacements for them.  His Good Conduct Medal and bar I have and his Purple Heart so I am really happy about that. 

                        This has been quite a learning curve for me and I can't say enough about all the help I have received from yourself and others on my question.  Thank you so very much and care.  Marianne

                          • Re: Is recipient's name supposed to be on back of Purple Heart?
                            Donald Hall Wayfarer

                            Most of the "I was there" medals weren't issued until after the war, and you had to ask for them.  My father never got his Korean War medals until I was in college in the late 1970s.  Personal decorations--Purple Hearts, awards for valor or service, etc--were available and presented, but not the ones for just being there (Vietnam and the War on Terror were different).  In those cases, people just wore the ribbon bars, as you only wore the medals on your dress blue uniforms, and in World War II, at least, the wear of that uniform was suspended "for the duration."


                            You have two routes you can take to get them issued.  If you are the primary surviving next of kin (there are rules), you can ask to have them issued from the government, although I suspect the process is rather slow due to Covid right now.  You can do it on-line through the National Archives, and the instructions are here: Military Awards and Decorations | National Archives


                            The advantage of going through the Archives is that if he was issued any unit awards or other things that you may not be aware of, they will send them to you as well--particularly the unit awards.  And they will engrave his name on his Good Conduct Medal.


                            If he was active in veterans' organizations and you're pretty sure what he was authorized, there are a number of places that you can buy them online.  Just make sure you use a reputable site, one that says they sell medals approved (or hallmarked) by the US Army Institute of Heraldry.  That's your indication that you're not getting factory seconds or government surplus.  But you can generally tell the reputable sites--they sell shadow boxes, shirts, etc. as well.