It was supposed to bring Christmas cheer, but instead it brought distress to more than one thousand families of deceased soldiers across the country.
The United States Marine Corps is in hot water Wednesday after mistakenly sending holiday ornaments to families of about 1,150 fallen Marines and sailors. The families received a Purple Heart Christmas tree ornament in the mail addressed to their deceased loved one in error.
According to ABCNews.com, the Marine’s Wounded Warrior Regiment mailed about 9,000 Christmas ornaments donated by the charitable organization, the Semper Fi Fund.
The ornaments were intended for post 9/11 living Marine recipients of the Purple Heart, an award given to service members wounded in combat.
The regiment’s list of Purple Heart recipients did not separate the names of the living from the deceased recipients of the medal.
In an interview with CNN, Colonel John L. Mayer, Commanding Officer of the Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment, apologized to the families of the deceased saying. "We accept full responsibility for this error and are moving quickly to reach out to the families we have affected."
Mayer was alerted to the problem when offended families began calling Monday.
Now, Mayer is personally returning their calls and is mailing an official letter of apology to all families who received the package.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Mayer says, "This initiative was meant to thank combat-wounded Marines and sailors for their service."
So far, about three dozen distressed families contacted the Marines, with the majority expressing shock that the packages had been addressed to their loved one and asked to be removed from the list.
Yet other families wanted the Marines to know what the ornament had meant to them and were grateful their loved one was remembered, but also requested to be removed from the list.
According to Reuters, Mayer reassured families of the deceased soldiers saying, “"There is no excuse for why this happened."