Marine Corporal Travis Eichelberger received a Purple Heart after he was crushed under a 67-tonne Abrams tank in Iraq.

 

Now, nearly two years later, the honour is being revoked because his injuries were not caused by hostile or combat action, as required under military rules.

 

Eichelberger is among 11 marines who were notified recently that their Purple Hearts were awarded by mistake and were being taken away.

 

Charles Mugno, head of the US Marine Corps awards branch, said Eichelberger and the other marines were among the first wave of casualties to return from Iraq.

 

Rush to honour

 

There was a rush to honour them, but there was also confusion about whether the marines were wounded in a combat zone or by hostile action, he said.

 

Eichelberger, 22, was sleeping in a shallow foxhole in the sand on the second day of the Iraq war when a tank driven by another American accidentally rolled on to him.

 

"If I really don't deserve it, I don't want it. But the problem is that they decided to give them to us," he said in Wednesday's edition of the Kansas City Star.

 

Eichelberger suffered a crushed pelvis, shredded internal organs and legs that swelled to twice their normal size.