By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 544, the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act.
The bill prohibits the sale of any Purple Heart medal presented by the government to a wounded servicemember or the servicemember’s family. Military collectors often acquire these Purple Hearts, sometimes through underhanded means, and resell them as collectable items. These medals sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars on the collector market.
HR 544 is named for Private Corrado Piccoli, a WWII infantryman killed in action in 1944. A Purple Heart medal accompanied the telegram informing Private Piccoli’s family of his death. Sadly, years later and after his parents’ passing, the medal was lost. Army Captain Zachariah Fike discovered the lost medal in 2011 and, after researching the name engraved on the medal, returned it to Private Piccoli’s surviving siblings. The experience inspired Captain Fike to found Purple Hearts Reunited, an organization that has, to date, returned over 300 Purple Hearts and rescued 700 more.
As Veterans or their survivors pass away, dozens of these Purple Hearts become lost every year and find their way into pawn shops, secondhand stores, and estate sales. Service organizations like Purple Hearts Reunited work tirelessly to rescue these medals and return them to families. The profiteering actions of military collectors make this task even more difficult as medals find their way onto the market and away from their rightful places of honor.
Rep. Cook, wounded twice in combat himself, said, “These military collectors cheapen the Purple Heart by buying and selling this symbol of sacrifice like a pack of baseball cards. I’m committed to defending our Veterans, and that means preserving their symbols of honor like the Purple Heart. These medals belong with families or in museums, not on an auction block.”
A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.