PVT Paul E. Riege, a World War I veteran from Spring Valley, OH who fought in France, never received a Purple Heart, though he was wounded in action in 1918. The nonprofit organization Purple Hearts Reunited corrected this error in April 2015 by sending a Purple Heart of the time period to PVT Reige’s grandson Ken Riege of Gallup, NM.
Paul Emerson Riege was born on 07 June 1900, and enlisted on 19 April 1917. He served with the 17th Company, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, United States Marine Corps. Riege arrived in France on 22 August 1917 and fought at the Battle of Belleau Wood. He was wounded in action on 04 October 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. He also saw action in Aisne, Champagne-Marne, and Aisne-Marne. Interestingly, PVT Riege was listed missing in action (MIA) from 01 September to 14 September 1918, but was medically discharged on 31 May 1919. PVT Riege never received a Purple Heart for his combat-inflicted injuries, despite a letter from the Adjutant General’s Office directing its award.
Then, almost exactly 98 years after PVT Riege enlisted for service, his grandson received a replacement Purple Heart in honor of his loved one’s service. The Purple Heart medal that was sent to Riege’s grandson in New Mexico is a World War I-era Purple Heart that was never engraved. It was donated to Purple Hearts Reunited by a man in South Carolina who wanted to connect the medal with a veteran or military family who wanted it. Purple Hearts Reunited had the medal engraved and shipped to Ken Riege at no cost, to honor his grandfather’s WWI service. Ken himself is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and values the medal as a tangible artifact of his grandfather’s military service.
The return of this Purple Heart medal was made possible in part by a grant from the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation.