Q: We recently had a family gathering where my sister said she believed my father, who is deceased, may have received three Purple Heart medals during World War II. I know he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, but we could get no information after an online search. Who can we contact regarding his WWII Army records and medals?


Answer: You will need to get in touch with the National Archives and their National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, which is a repository of millions of military personnel, health and medical records of U.S. veterans from World War I onwards.

Incidentally, earlier records are held in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., including the early 20th century and going as far back as the Revolutionary War.

Information from the records is made available upon written request to the extent allowed by law. Generally speaking, military personnel records are open to the public 62 years after the date the person left the military.

Veterans or the next-of-kin of a deceased veteran can use to order copies of their military records. For all others, a request must be made using a Standard Form 180, a link to which can be found at

All requests must be in writing, signed and mailed to the National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63138.

You can also get more information by calling the Records Center at 314-801-0800.

There is no comprehensive list of Purple Heart recipients in existence, according to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, which relies on family, friends and recipients to share their stories for their memorial in New Windsor, N.Y. You can search for names at

Q: A coworker in our office said we should not crush cans before putting them in the recycle bin, because the recycling process cannot distinguish flat metal cans from paper. Is this true? I can’t believe we can put a man on the moon but don’t have the technology to separate metal from paper for recycling!


Answer: No, that isn’t true in this market. “Aluminum cans can be crushed if more room is needed in carts,” said Helen Peplowski, director of sustainability for the city of Winston-Salem. “There is not a right or wrong way to recycle aluminum cans as long as they are emptied and rinsed out. Our Material Recovery Facility where the recyclables get sent is able to separate material thanks to the machinery and the individual employees who help in the sorting process.”

You can read more frequently asked questions about what can and cannot be recycled at


Three years ago, when Jake Tapper — the host of CNN’s “State of the Union” — filled in as a guest artist for Scott Adams in the comic strip Dilbert, SAM heard from readers confused about why the art had suddenly changed in the strip. We’re pre-emptively letting you know that it’s happening again this week, starting Monday on the comics page.

In addition to being a news show host, Tapper is a cartoonist, and often ends his show with an animated editorial cartoon known as the “State of the Cartoonion.”

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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