Korean War veteran Nyles Reed, 75, opened an envelope last week to learn a Purple Heart had been approved for injuries he sustained as a Marine on June 22, 1952.
But there was no medal. Just a certificate and a form stating that the medal was "out of stock."
"I can imagine, of course, with what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a big shortage," Reed said. "At least, I would imagine so."
The form letter from the Navy Personnel Command told Reed he could wait 90 days and resubmit an application, or buy his own medal.
The good news is that with the way the administration is treating wounded Iraq vets, there should be no shortage of them out on the streets, willing to sell their Purple Hearts.
After waiting 55 years, however, Reed decided to pay $42 for his own Purple Heart and accompanying ribbon — plus state sales taxes — at a military surplus store.
They have no shame.