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Marines Revoking 11 Purple Hearts

February 10, 2005

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) _ Marine Cpl. Travis Eichelberger received a Purple Heart after he was crushed under a 67-ton Abrams tank in Iraq.

Now, nearly two years later, the honor is being revoked because his injuries weren’t caused by hostile or combat action, as required under military rules. Eichelberger is among 11 Marines who were notified recently that their Purple Hearts were awarded by mistake and were being taken away.

Charles Mugno, head of the Marine Corps Awards Branch, said Eichelberger and the other Marines were among the first wave of casualties to return from Iraq. There was a rush to honor them, but there was also confusion about whether the Marines were wounded in a combat zone or by hostile action, he said.

Eichelberger, 22, was sleeping in a shallow foxhole in the sand on the second day of the Iraq war when a tank driven by another American accidentally rolled onto him.

``If I really don’t deserve it, I don’t want it. But the problem is that they decided to give them to us,″ he said in Wednesday’s edition of The Kansas City Star.

Eichelberger suffered a crushed pelvis, shredded internal organs and legs that swelled to twice their normal size. The medal was pinned to Eichelberger’s hospital gown at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

After he was released, he came home to a hero’s welcome.

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