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Service: All Services (Originally Army Only)
Instituted: 1932. The Purple Heart is retroactive to 5 April 1917; however, awards for qualifying prior to that date have been made.
Criteria: Awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or to any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Forces, since 5 April 1917 has been wounded, killed, or who has died or may die of wounds received from an opposing enemy force while in armed combat or as a result of an act of international terrorism or being a Prisoner of War.
Devices: Army/Air Force: Bronze, Silver Oak Leaf Cluster; Navy/ Marine Corps/Coast Guard: Gold, Silver Star.
Although the Purple Heart Medal was awarded for meritorious service between 1932 and 1943, the primary purpose of the award has always been to recognize those who received wounds while in the service of the United States military. Later, Presidential Executive Orders extended eligibility for the Purple Heart Medal to military and civilian personnel who received wounds from a terrorist attack or while performing peace keeping duties.
Currently, it is awarded for wounds received while serving in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Forces after April 5, 1917; it may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel. The wounds may have been received while in combat against an enemy, while a member of a peacekeeping force, while a Prisoner of War, as a result of a terrorist attack or as a result of a friendly fire incident in hostile territory.
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