Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

4 congressmen seek Purple Hearts for soldiers killed in Arkansas

Sep. 4, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Daris Long, red cap, salutes the flag-drapped casket of his son, Army Pvt. William Long, at Arkansas Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, Ark., on June 8, 2009. Pvts. William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula were shot and killed by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad at a recruiting center in Arkansas.
Daris Long, red cap, salutes the flag-drapped casket of his son, Army Pvt. William Long, at Arkansas Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, Ark., on June 8, 2009. Pvts. William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula were shot and killed by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad at a recruiting center in Arkansas. (Danny Johnston / The Associated Press)
  • Filed Under

Arkansas’ four congressmen blasted the Defense Department on Thursday for what they called an unnecessary delay in a decision on Purple Hearts for a pair of Army recruiters killed by a religious fanatic in Little Rock five years ago.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the lawmakers — Republican Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Tom Cotton — demanded that military officials finish their review into awards for the Arkansas attack and the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, when an Army psychologist killed 13 and wounded 32 others.

“The delay in this report and DoD’s insistence that these brave men and women do not deserve the honor of being awarded the Purple Heart has denied these service members and their families essential benefits that are provided to Purple Heart recipients,” the letter states. “We find this continued inaction by the DoD disgraceful, as well as unlawful.”

Labeling the Arkansas and Texas crimes as terrorist attacks and awarding Purple Hearts to their victims has been an ongoing cause for conservative House members, who have criticized both the Pentagon and Obama administration for ignoring the religious motivations behind the attacks.

In both cases, the shooters were Muslims who maintained that their crimes were in response to U.S. actions in the Middle East.

Family members of the Arkansas soldiers killed — Pvts. William Long and Quinton Ezeagwula — also have pushed for the recognition. In April, House members included language in a draft of the 2015 defense authorization bill that would require an analysis of what benefits and death payouts victims’ families would receive if the two shootings were reclassified as terrorist attacks.

The 2014 defense authorization bill required defense officials to reconsider whether Purple Hearts should be awarded in both crimes, but Pentagon officials delayed that report until July 2015, to coincide with the completion of a larger military awards review.

The Pentagon called the review an “extremely sensitive issue” given the “historical prestige and legacy of the Purple Heart.”

But the Arkansas delegation called those excuses off-base, saying the department has had five years to review and reverse its decision not to award the Purple Heart.

“All of the men and women killed or wounded in these attacks were victims of terrorism, targeted because they were soldiers,” the letter states. “They deserve this recognition for their service and their sacrifice.”

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

'Get on the trail'
Drill sergeant duty is tough, but offers serious rewards

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook