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To Major General Charles H. Martin
March 25, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]
Upon my recent return from Miami, where Mrs. Marshall and I went for a short rest—my first in over two years—I found your letter of March 8th about Mr. John J. Wahl. Apparently he came to town during my absence, so I missed seeing him.1
Since my letter to you of February 16th, careful consideration has been given to the possible award of the Purple Heart to Miss Ann C. Singleton, and others who performed service of recognized merit in the last war. The final decision was that such an award at this late date would result in a deluge of applications for the same decoration from a large number of people who performed services of comparable value to those under consideration. It was, therefore, deemed inadvisable at the moment to award the Purple Heart to civilians for service in the first World War.
Incidentally, I personally was much interested in getting a Purple Heart for Ann Singleton. She was my secretary.2
With affectionate regards to you and to Mrs. Martin,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. A retired major general since 1927, Martin had served as governor of Oregon from January 1935 to January 1939. On March 8 he had written to Marshall that John J. Wahl, a prominent citizen of Portland and nephew of the late Adjutant General Lutz Wahl (U.S.M.A., 1891), was to visit Washington, D.C., on private business and pay his respects to the chief of staff. (Martin to Marshall, March 8, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
2. On February 16 Marshall had written to Martin that he was having the matter of a Purple Heart awarded to Ann C. Singleton, confidential secretary at General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces, looked into. She also had assisted in the preparation of the Final Report of the American Expeditionary Forces. On January 29 Martin had forwarded to the chief of staff a letter from the widow of Brigadier General LeRoy Eltinge (U.S.M.A., 1896), deputy chief of staff at Pershing’s headquarters in France, requesting that Miss Singleton receive the Purple Heart award. (Marshall to Martin, February 16, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)
In June 1919 Singleton was awarded the Meritorious Services Citation Certificate by General Pershing. “The records show that 59 civilians received this form of award and it is understood that General Pershing hoped to award the recipients of this certificate with a form of decoration not then available.” When the Purple Heart was revived in 1932, the regulations called for the award to be given to members of the army. In September 1942 the regulations were changed to include persons serving in any capacity with the army, but the revised regulations applied only to those wounded or killed in action. (Brigadier General Miller G. White Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, February 13, 1943, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Personnel].) In February 1943 Secretary of War Stimson requested that President Roosevelt authorize award of the Purple Heart to this small group of civilians, but to no avail. Four years later, Miss Singleton was notified by The Adjutant General: “Under existing regulations the Purple Heart may not be awarded to civilians for service performed in World War I. The practicability of such awards has been carefully considered on previous occasions. However, it has been consistently held that it would not be advisable to amend the policy at this late date.” (Stimson Memorandum for the President, February 24, 1943, ibid.; Major General Edward F, Witsell to Ann Singleton, February 13, 1947, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 603-604.