The Commission of Fine Arts solicited plaster models from three leading sculptors for the medal, selecting that of John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in May 1931.
As described in Army Regulations 600-35 of November 10, 1941, the design consisted of a purple enameled heart within a bronze quarter-inch border showing a relief profile of George Washington in Continental uniform. Surmounting the enameled shield is Washington’s family coat of arms, the same used by the heart shape and the coat of arms of the obverse is repeated without enamel; within the heart lies the inscription, For Military Merit, with space beneath for the engraved name of the recipient. The device is 1-11/16 inches in length and 1-3/8 inches in width, and is suspended by a rounded rectangular length displaying a vertical purple band with quarter-inch white borders.
The association of the Purple Heart with wounds or fatality suffered in the line of meritorious service also stems from this time. Eligibility for the new award was defined to include:
Those in possession of a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate issued by the Commander-in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The Certificates had to be exchanged for the Purple Heat or the award and Oak Leaf Clusters as appropriate. This preserved the ideal of presenting the award for military merit and loyal service.
Those authorized by Army Regulations 600-95 to wear wound chevrons. These men also had to apply for the new award.
Those not authorized wound chevrons prior to February 22, 1931, but who would otherwise be authorized them under stipulations of Army Regulations 600-95.
History of the Purple Heart
At his headquarters in Newburgh, New York, on August 7, 1782, General George Washington devised two new badges of distinction for enlisted men and noncommissioned officers. To signify loyal military service, he ordered a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve of the uniform coat for the rank and file who had completed three years of duty "with bravery, fidelity, and good conduct"; two chevrons signified six years of service. The second badge, for "any singularly meritorious Action," was the "Figure of a Heart in Purple Cloth or Silk edged with narrow Lace or Binding." This device, the Badge of Military Merit, was affixed to the uniform coat above the left breast and permitted its wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge and to have his name and regiment inscribed in a Book of Merit. The Badge specifically honored the lower ranks, where decorations were unknown in contemporary European Armies. As Washington intended, the road to glory in a patriot army is thus open to all."
The award fell into disuse following the Revolution and was not proposed again officially until after World War I. On October 10, 1927, Army Chief of Staff General Charles P. Summerall directed that a draft bill be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit."
For reasons unclear, the bill was withdrawn and action on the case ceased on January 3, 1928, but the Office of The Adjutant General was instructed to file all materials collected for possible future use.
The rough sketch accompanying this proposal showed a circular disc medal with a concave center in which a relief heart appeared. The reverse carried the legend: For Military Merit.
A number of private interests sought to have the medal reinstituted in the Army. One of these was the board of directors of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum in New York.
On January 7, 1931, Summerall’s successor, General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened work on a new design, involved the Washington Commission of Fine Arts. His object was medal issued on the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth.
Miss Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General, was named to redesign the newly revived medal, which became known as the Purple Heart. Using general specifications provided to her, Ms. Will created the design sketch for the present medal of the Purple Heart. Her obituary , in the February 8, 1975 edition of The Washington Post newspaper, reflects her many contributions to military heraldry.
The War Department announced the new award in General Order No. 3, February 22, 1932:
By order of the President of the United States, the Purple Heart established by General George Washington at Newburgh, August 7, 1782, during the War of the Revolution, is hereby revived out of respect to his memory and military achievements.
By Order of the Secretary War:
Chief of Staff
Current eligibility and conditions for the award are defined in Army Regulations 600-8-22. Paragraph 2-8e carries the notice that "any member of the Army who was awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious achievement or service, as opposed to wounds received in action, between 7 December 1941 and 22 September 1943, may apply for award of an appropriate decoration instead of the Purple Heart."
he Purple Heart is ranked immediately behind the bronze star in order of precedence among the personal awards; however, it is generally acknowledged to be among the most aesthetically pleasing of American awards and decorations.
Sonic boom is an impulsive noise similar to thunder. It is caused by an object moving faster than sound -- about 750 miles per hour at sea level. An aircraft traveling through the atmosphere continuously produces air-pressure waves similar to the water waves caused by a ship's bow. When the aircraft exceeds the speed of sound, these pressure waves combine and form shock waves which travel forward from the generation or "release" point.
As an aircraft flies at supersonic speeds it is continually generating shock waves, dropping sonic boom along its flight path, similar to someone dropping objects from a moving vehicle. From the perspective of the aircraft, the boom appears to be swept backwards as it travels away from the aircraft. If the plane makes a sharp turn or pulls up, the boom will hit the ground in front of the aircraft.
The sound heard on the ground as a "sonic boom" is the sudden onset and release of pressure after the buildup by the shock wave or "peak overpressure." The change in pressure caused by sonic boom is only a few pounds per square foot -- about the same pressure change we experience on an elevator as it descends two or three floors -- in a much shorter time period. It is the magnitude of this peak overpressure that describes a sonic boom.
There are two types of booms: N-waves and U-waves. The N-wave is generated from steady flight conditions, and its pressure wave is shaped like the letter "N." N-waves have a front shock to a positive peak overpressure which is followed by a linear decrease in the pressure until the rear shock returns to ambient pressure. The U-wave, or focused boom, is generated from maneuvering flights, and its pressure wave is shaped like the letter "U." U-waves have positive shocks at the front and rear of the boom in which the peak overpressures are increased compared to the N-wave.
For today's supersonic aircraft in normal operating conditions, the peak overpressure varies from less than one pound to about 10 pounds per square foot for a N-wave boom. Peak overpressures for U-waves are amplified two to five times the N-wave, but this amplified overpressure impacts only a very small area when compared to the area exposed to the rest of the sonic boom.
The strongest sonic boom ever recorded was 144 pounds per square foot and it did not cause injury to the researchers who were exposed to it. The boom was produced by a F-4 flying just above the speed of sound at an altitude of 100 feet.
In recent tests, the maximum boom measured during more realistic flight conditions was 21 pounds per square foot. There is a probability that some damage -- shattered glass, for example, will result from a sonic boom. Buildings in good repair should suffer no damage by pressures of less than 16 pounds per square foot. And, typically, community exposure to sonic boom is below two pounds per square foot. Ground motion resulting from sonic boom is rare and is well below structural damage thresholds accepted by the U.S. Bureau of Mines and other agencies.
Is it true that . . . Congress passed the "Sullivan Act" to prohibit family members from serving together on the same ship or in the same unit in the military?
The answer is no. There is no such act or law. However, after the Sullivan brothers were killed, there were several bills introduced in Congress that related to family members serving in a military unit together. None of these bills were enacted into law. However, there are military policies and directives to discourage immediate family members from serving together.
The facts: The five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa, enlisted in the Navy on the same day, January 3, 1942. The brothers were assigned to the U.S.S. Juneau, which was torpedoed and sank on November 13, 1942, killing all but 10 crew members. Although an existing Navy regulation forbade the assignment of the brothers to the same ship, their request to serve together was granted. The existing regulation was issued in July 1942, and was certainly influenced by the loss of the U.S.S. Arizona during Pearl Harbor, with three brothers among the casualties.