Letter from Uncle Henry (known as Henry Kaye to Grandpa Knowlton) Re: the Purple Heart

Uncle Henry writes re the Purple Heart:

“Here are some more details:

Okinawa was very close to Japan, so paratroopers were feared.

One night the sky was lit up by star shells so everyone ran for their foxholes.  [editor’s note: the light from the star shells would have  made paratroopers very visible.]

Unfortunately, Grandpa headed out of the tent (a “wall” tent) and tripped on one of the ropes holding up the side of the tent, landing head first on the adjacent tent stake which hit in the middle of his nose.

It was double-ugly and he was asked not to come to mess for 2 weeks.

The three reasons he turned down the proposed Purple Heart were:

1. It turned out that the star shells came from a US destroyer which got their co-ordinates mixed up, so it was “friendly fire” and not “enemy fire”.

2. As you surmised, they had a sufficient supply of grain alcohol , and he was drunk.

3. He was running as fast as he could.”

 

Grandpa Knowlton writes, on May 8, 1945:

Had some excitement around here night before last. Some huge star shells came in, their cases screaming to the ground, and their “stars” floating down making the area as light as day”

and on May 11, 1945:

“The colonel says I should get Purple Heart for my wounds.  Said no thanks, although it was “due to enemy action” .  My face is still a mess – lovely scabs.  In case you did not get my letter describing the incident, it was done in foxhole diving via tent stakes & not serious!  Badge of cowardice!”

Was it coincidence that the use of star shell illumination was reduced by May the 10th, 1945?   The incident happened  May 6, 1945.  It also put ARC director Joe Graham in hospital.  Does the Army not give Purple Hearts for accidental friendly fire?  The Campaign was still underway, and I think they *both* should have got Purple Hearts, but that’s just my opinion.

There is documentary proof the Army knew about this.   On page 66 of “World War II War Diaries 1941 1945”, declassified December 31, 2012, is found the following:

[pdf-embedder url=”http://letters.sullivanweb.me/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Page_66_World_War_II_War_Diaries_1941-1945_friendly_stars.pdf”]

 

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