During the holidays, an unexpected present or Christmas card is usually a pleasant surprise. But for families of fallen Marines last week, mistakenly sent care packages were somber reminders of their deceased loved ones.
For the past three years, the Marine’s Wounded Warrior Regiment has mailed Purple Heart Christmas ornaments to the Marines and sailors who have received the award since 9/11, reports The Washington Post. The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed services who are wounded in action, but can also be presented posthumously to the next of kin of those killed in battle. This year, the regiment’s mailing list didn’t distinguish between the two groups of soldiers.
At the end of last week, families of 1,150 fallen Marines and sailors received the ornaments addressed to their deceased love ones. The packages were accompanied by a letter from the regiment’s commanding officer, also addressed to the deceased soldier, and a pamphlet about an athletic reconditioning program.
When family members began calling Monday morning, the Marine Corps realized that something had gone wrong. “There are no words to express how very sorry we are for the hurt such a mistake has caused the families of our fallen warriors,” Col. John L. Mayer, the regiment’s commanding officer, said in a statement. “There is no excuse for why this happened.” Col. Mayer has begun personally calling the families to apologize, and the Corps will send letters of apology to all families mistakenly included on the list.
The charitable Semper Fi Fund donated the brass ornaments, which have an image of the Purple Heart in the middle. In line with their goals of assisting injured Marines return to military service or reintegrate in society, the Wounded Warrior Regiment then wanted to pass on the good will. “The intention was to thank Purple Heart recipients for their service,” Capt. Jill Wolf, a spokeswoman for the regiment, told ABC News. She also said some families have expressed their gratitude for the ornaments, but nevertheless asked to be taken off the mailing list.
By mail.com Editor Will Cade