Million-dollar wound

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A million-dollar wound (American English) or Blighty wound (British English, now obsolete) is military slang referring to a type of wound received in combat which is serious enough to get the person sent away from the fighting, but is not fatal, nor will it leave the person permanently crippled.

In his World War II memoir With the Old Breed, Eugene Sledge wrote that during the Battle of Okinawa, the day after he tried to reassure a fellow United States Marine who believed he would soon die,[1]

Much to my joy I saw the friend with whom I'd had the conversation the night before. He wore a triumphant look of satisfaction, shook hands with me heartily, and grinned as a stretcher team carried him by with a bloody bandage on his foot. God or chance—depending on one’s faith— had spared his life and lifted his burden of further fear and terror in combat by awarding him a million-dollar wound. He had done his duty, and the war was over for him. He was in pain, but he was lucky. Many others hadn’t been as lucky the last couple of days.

In the 1994 film Forrest Gump Tom Hanks's character receives a million-dollar wound in the buttocks and is sent home from the Vietnam War, although owing to his limited intellect, he does not understand the idiom and believes that it implies that he will receive a monetary payout.

In a novel titled The Million Dollar Wound, which involves both combat at Guadalcanal and organized crime intrusion into the film industry, Max Allan Collins also explains that it was originally called the "Hollywood wound."

A similar concept is the Blighty wound, a British reference from World War I.[2]

Joseph Heller uses the expression in his 1961 novel Catch 22 when his hero, Yossarian, suffers a leg wound and calls it a million-dollar wound.

Science fiction author Dean Whitlock wrote a 1987 short story titled "The Million-Dollar Wound" about a future war in which, as the conflict progresses, increasingly severe wounds are surgically and prosthetically repaired, until eventually, the only way for a soldier to be sent home is to die.


  1. ^ Sledge, E. B. (1981). With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Presidio Press. pp. 220–221. 
  2. ^ "Blighty Wounds". Retrieved 2007-03-26.