The families of U.S. Marines mourning loved ones killed in action recently got a most unwelcome surprise when an epic blunder caused them to receive Purple Hearts intended for soldiers who’d been wounded but survived.

Worse yet, the medals were accompanied by letters addressed to the dead and even information about athletic reconditioning to help them rehabilitate from their injuries.

Col. John L. Mayer, commanding officer of the Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment, was appalled and said there was no excuse for the error, adding in a statement, “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 … We accept full responsibility for this error and are moving quickly to reach out to the families we have affected.”

[CNN]