A 96-year-old Korean War veteran is still attempting to get a Purple Heart medal after 7 decades

by Lucas Garcia
Veteran's Purple Heart Quest

A 96-year-old Korean War veteran, Earl Meyer, has been tirelessly pursuing a Purple Heart medal for over seven decades. This prestigious medal is awarded to service members wounded or killed in combat. Meyer’s quest for recognition stems from a vivid memory of his platoon coming under heavy fire during the Korean War, an event that left shrapnel embedded in his thigh.

Despite providing the U.S. Army with documentation to support his claim of being wounded in combat in June 1951, Meyer faced numerous obstacles. Many of the men who could have witnessed the battle alongside him have not survived, and he suspects that the medic who treated him on the battlefield may have been killed before filing the necessary paperwork.

In April, an Army review board issued a final rejection of Meyer’s Purple Heart request, citing insufficient documentation. This case highlights the challenges wounded veterans face in obtaining medals they’ve rightfully earned when war’s chaos, limited records, and the passage of time hinder their ability to produce irrefutable proof.

Earl Meyer, who served in the Korean War, ultimately resorted to legal action by suing the Department of Defense and the Army in September. The Army’s Office of Public Affairs, though generally not commenting on ongoing litigation, decided to revisit the case after external inquiries.

Meyer’s decision to pursue the Purple Heart was heavily influenced by his three daughters, who believed it would provide closure for him. Despite sustaining relatively minor injuries compared to many of his fellow soldiers, Meyer’s dedication to his service and the recognition of his sacrifice remain unwavering.

Cases like Meyer’s, where medals are denied due to lack of documentation, are relatively uncommon but underscore the complexities of the approval process for military awards. Each branch of the military has its unique process, and it becomes increasingly challenging for veterans once they leave the service.

Meyer’s primary challenge has been the absence of paperwork to substantiate his claim. While the medic who treated him promised to file the necessary forms, it seems he may have met his fate in combat, leaving Meyer without the required evidence. However, Army medical records do indicate his treatment, including a tetanus shot for the shrapnel injury.

Although Meyer’s accidental back injuries from later incidents do not typically qualify for a Purple Heart, wounds resulting from enemy shrapnel are eligible. Meyer completed his tour guarding prisoners of war, received honors such as the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in World War II as a Merchant Marine, and was honorably discharged in 1952.

Despite the passing of time, Meyer’s dedication to securing the Purple Heart endures. Doctors at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis in 2005 acknowledged that his leg injury likely occurred in combat, stating that “reasonable doubt has been resolved in your favor.” Meyer initially applied for the Purple Heart in 2020, but the Army requested additional documentation.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office stepped in to assist Meyer, obtaining documents from the National Archives and making inquiries. However, even with this additional evidence, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records declined his request, stating the need for “substantiating evidence to verify that he was injured.”

Despite these challenges, Sen. Klobuchar remains committed to honoring Meyer’s service and is determined to continue the effort to obtain the Purple Heart for this dedicated Korean War veteran. Meyer’s attorney, Alan Anderson, has argued that review boards have awarded Purple Hearts in similar circumstances, sometimes even under court orders, emphasizing the need to consider credible statements from colleagues in the absence of official medical records during wartime conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Veteran’s Purple Heart Quest

Q: Why is Earl Meyer pursuing a Purple Heart medal after so many years?

A: Earl Meyer is pursuing a Purple Heart because he vividly remembers being wounded in combat during the Korean War, an event that left shrapnel in his thigh. He believes it’s essential to receive the recognition he deserves, even after more than seven decades.

Q: Why has it taken so long for Earl Meyer to seek the Purple Heart?

A: Like many veterans, Meyer didn’t initially pursue the Purple Heart because his injuries were comparatively minor. However, his daughters encouraged him to seek the recognition, leading to his decision to pursue it in recent years.

Q: What challenges has Earl Meyer faced in obtaining the Purple Heart?

A: Meyer’s main challenge has been the lack of paperwork to substantiate his claim. The medic who treated him on the battlefield, who promised to file the necessary forms, may have been killed in action. Additionally, the passage of time and the absence of surviving witnesses have made it difficult to produce irrefutable proof of his injury.

Q: What honors and awards has Earl Meyer received for his military service?

A: Earl Meyer received the Combat Infantryman Badge for his active participation in ground combat under enemy fire during the Korean War. He also received the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

Q: What actions have been taken to help Earl Meyer secure the Purple Heart?

A: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office has been actively involved in assisting Meyer. They obtained documents from the National Archives and made inquiries to support his request. Despite setbacks, Sen. Klobuchar remains committed to honoring his service.

Q: Why is the Army reviewing Earl Meyer’s case again?

A: After external inquiries and media attention, the Army’s Office of Public Affairs decided to reevaluate Meyer’s case. The Sergeant Major of the Army’s Office is engaging with Meyer’s family to further assess the situation.

Q: Are there similar cases where veterans struggle to obtain medals due to lack of documentation?

A: While cases like Meyer’s are relatively uncommon, they highlight the complexities of the military awards approval process. Each military branch has its own process, and it becomes more challenging for veterans once they leave the service. In some cases, awards have been granted under similar circumstances, emphasizing the importance of considering credible statements from colleagues in the absence of official records during wartime conditions.

More about Veteran’s Purple Heart Quest

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HistoryNerd55 November 10, 2023 - 6:47 pm

I dint knw they give medals so late. y the army say no? smh

CuriousMind27 November 11, 2023 - 12:15 am

it’s crazy how time can mess up records. hope he gets his medal, he deserves it!

GrammarPolice November 11, 2023 - 12:53 am

So many errors, but important story. Glad to see they’re helping Meyer.

Reader123 November 11, 2023 - 7:15 am

wow, this vateran guy Earl Meyer, he fight in Korea long time ago. want that purple hurt. sounds hard.


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