The holiday ornaments, which were addressed to the Marines and sailors, were sent to their families. The Marines said they discovered the error when a family member contacted the Wounded Warrior Regiment.
More than 9,000 packages containing a Purple Heart ornament donated by a charitable organization, a letter to the award recipient from the commanding officer and sergeant major, and a flyer with information about the regiment's athletic reconditioning program, were meant to be received by living Purple Heart recipients.
"There are no words to express how very sorry we are for the hurt such a mistake has caused the families of our fallen warriors. We always strive to honor the sacrifices these Marines, sailors and their families gave to this country," Col. John L. Mayer, commanding officer of the WWR, said Tuesday in a statement.
"There is no excuse for why this happened. We accept full responsibility for this error and are moving quickly to reach out to the families we have affected. This initiative was meant to thank combat-wounded Marines and sailors for their service," Mayer said.