The Selling Of Military Awards

Should the sales of military awards be legal?

It is a debate that is raging for a long time, and Representative Paul Cook, a Republican from California just introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell any Purple Hearts.

This bill has gained heavy support and 9 Republicans and 8 Democrats co-sponsored the bill.

As Representative Cook, who is a retired Colonel from the Marine Corps, says, allowing the sale of these awards just cheapens their original intention.

Collectors

It seems these awards are highly collectible.

But the price a soldier paid makes us question, “shouldn’t it be with his/her family?”

Should it be more than just the Purple Heart?

Awards

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

While I have tried hard to stay unbiased, I just can’t.

As a person who was huge into collectibles of all types at one time, I would never have bought or sold any type of military award.

I believe that no award given to a soldier or officer should ever be allowed to be sold.

These awards should either be with family or if no family can be located, they should have a special place in a national museum.

But that is just my opinion.

How are the medals being sold obtained?

While some of these awards may have been sold at estate auctions or even garage sales, there is a large percentage that have gone on the market after being stolen.

Representative Cook described one letter he read where the person stated their home was burglarized and the thief took the medal the person’s Grandfather had received from General MacArthur.

It is my opinion that every means should be made to find the family of any military award.

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A fighter

I have to commend Captain Zach Fike who is a member of the Vermont Army National Guard.

He has made a commitment to search out medals being sold online and try to find the family who should have those medals.

Fike is considered an enemy of collectors and military memorabilia dealers.

He has managed to get 7 Purple Hearts returned to their proper owners… The families of the service members.

We all should stand against these dealers

One of the websites that Captain Fike has been in debate with is Bay State Militaria and Antiques.

The owner seems to be one Scott Kraska and he does list his email and phone:

While I have no issue with many of the items Scott sells, there are some I found that should not be listed:

  • Nice WWI set from a Rochester, NY Engineer who was involved in the construction of Pershing Stadium. Great shots showing stages of the stadium, named Rochester, NY medal and dog tags. $125 (I am sure this person has family somewhere)
  • New York WWI Medal, serial numbered on reverse. $35 (The serial number should lead to the owner’s family)
  • Boxed and named Rochester, NY Medal with inscribed “War Message” and research. $65 (does the family know?)
  • Very nice 89TH Division Purple Heart with some basic research. Interesting that he had 2 middle names. Most likely issued in 1945. $310 (Find the family…)
  • Rochester, NY Medal and Insignia Grouping for a US Army Nurse. Includes officially engraved Rochester, NY Medal. $180
  • WWII KIA Purple Heart, government engraved with original inner and outer boxes. Also included are 2 letters written by the Soldier in the weeks before his death. $375 (C’mon Scott, find the family)
  • WWII KIA Purple Heart set with box, mailer carton, framed Purple Heart Certificate and framed Accolade and framed Studio portrait of this soldier. It appears from cursory research he was in the 20TH Armored Infantry and also possibly the 10TH Armored. Needs additional research. $845 (Do the right thing!)
  • Historic WWII Purple Heart for a 44TH Division Soldier who died of shrapnel wounds to the stomach. He was part of the 114TH Infantry. Purple Heart is Government engraved and in excellent condition. $390
  • Very nice 45TH Division KIA Purple Heart Grouping. Includes Officially Government engraved Purple Heart with titled case and outter shipping box. Accolade Document and Purple Heart Certificate with mailing tube. Original lead seal and plaque from the casket that was shipped back home. Historic set. $755
  • Vietnam Army Purple Heart/ Air Medal grouping with Purple Heart document, discharge and other certificates. No research has been done, but should be fairly straight forward. Medals are unengraved as they should be. $250 (I am getting angry)

But, he isn’t the only person selling these awards that were given from the sacrifice of blood.

There is Stephen Wheeler Medals in London who sells medals from all major military organizations.

He can be contacted at:

  • stephenwheelermedals@gmail.com
  • or 07778 848 555 mobile number

Look at these listings (he has the name, why not find the family?)

  • USA group and ID bracelet to Lt. Comdr. H. A. MacInnis, U.S.N.R. & American Legion WWI & WWII £110.00
  • USA medal group to Jeff D. Howell, 33rd Infantry U.S. Vols. £220.00
  • USA medal group to Spc. Gerald Fleming £70.00
  • USA Silver Star to R. G. La Riviere. For gallantry in action £100.00

eBay

eBay is a haunted trove of medals earned by gallant soldiers.

I found this link that shows many varieties: http://www.ebay.com/bhp/us-military-medals

And these with Purple Hearts and other awards that should be with the family:

Let the honor not be sold

It is cool to collect old and rare items, but I put a stop at military awards.

Helmets, uniforms, gas masks, guns are great collector items, but I am a firm believer that all military awards should be illegal to sell and to buy.

As a matter of fact, many people use this method to claim they are war heroes and have never set foot on a battle ground.

The Bill

I am happy the Representative Cook introduced this bill.

I wish they would add that all military awards would be illegal.

I need to recognize the co-sponsors of this bill and I ask that all reading this write their representatives and ask them to support this legislation.

Co-sponsors are:

Rep. Peterson, Collin C. [D-MN-7] 11/14/2016
Rep. Poliquin, Bruce [R-ME-2] 11/14/2016
Rep. Collins, Chris [R-NY-27] 11/14/2016
Rep. Chu, Judy [D-CA-27] 11/14/2016
Rep. Jenkins, Lynn [R-KS-2] 11/14/2016
Rep. Gohmert, Louie [R-TX-1] 11/14/2016
Rep. Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4] 11/14/2016
Rep. Cicilline, David N. [D-RI-1] 11/14/2016
Rep. Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [D-GA-2] 11/14/2016
Rep. Posey, Bill [R-FL-8] 11/14/2016
Rep. Gibson, Christopher P. [R-NY-19] 11/16/2016
Rep. Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large] 11/16/2016
Rep. Calvert, Ken [R-CA-42] 11/16/2016
Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5] 11/30/2016
Rep. Lofgren, Zoe [D-CA-19] 12/06/2016
Rep. Gallego, Ruben [D-AZ-7] 12/08/2016

Just do the right thing

If you see a silver star, a bronze star or a purple heart in an antique store, why not ask the owner if you can find the family?

Just buy it and do the right thing if they don’t agree.

It truly makes me sick that some people are so hungry for money that they would sell these works of honor and bravery.

But, on the other side of the coin, that is what many of these soldiers fought and died for… Freedom!!!

Let’s hear your opinions

Let the debate begin!!!

We are open to hear both sides of the equation, so feel free to let your voice be heard.

Do you agree that selling military medals should be illegal?

Or should it stay as it is?

Have you ever bought or sold military memorabilia? Medals??

Tell us your stories.

Thank you.

You can leave all comments and questions below.

“They can’t keep them on the shelves in an antique shop – on the day they put one out there, it’s gone.” Captain Zach Pike

“They’re not there because somebody pried them out of the hands of an unwilling person. They’re there because these families have thrown them away or sold them. So these pieces become separated from the family not by accident. They are discarded items.” Scott Kraska

“When these symbols are cheapened, it hurts us all. While most military collectors are honorable, good people, there is also a distasteful and downright ghoulish desire by some collectors to acquire Purple Hearts awarded to veterans wounded or killed in famous battles. Unlike collecting military gear from past conflicts, like helmets or uniforms, trading Purple Hearts puts a monetary value on something priceless: blood spilled in defense of our nation.” Representative Paul Cook

“One of our ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and we had family in Jamestown as well… I was raised where service was a part of the fabric of life. It wasn’t one-upmanship. No one bragged about their medals, but you could see the look in the eyes, the tip of the hat. You served your country first, then you went to work and had a family.” Steve Daines

References

  1. http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/12/20/symbols-sacrifice-sale.html

  2. http://vote.military.com/military/issues/bills/?bill=74564636

  3. http://www.ebay.com/bhp/military-medals

  4. https://buymilitarymedals.com/collections/usa

  5. https://usnews.newsvine.com/_news/2012/09/18/13931135-medal-peddlers-thriving-purple-heart-market-has-fans-and-foes

  6. http://baystatemilitaria.com/forsale.htm

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