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MILITARY AWARDS: EARNED OR NOT, WAS THE CRITERIA MET? ^ | Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Gerald F. Merna, 1st Lt, U. S. Marine Corps (Retired)

Posted on 02/07/2004 4:02:03 PM PST by PhilDragoo


By Gerald F. Merna, 1st Lt, U. S. Marine Corps (Retired)


Like many former, active and retired military personnel I am fairly active on the internet, I am a member of several Marine Corps and veterans organizations, and I actively participate in (sometimes two) “annual reunions” with one specific infantry company I served with during the Korean War. I have great interest in military matters generally, and more specifically in areas that I either experienced or was otherwise aware of as a result of my 22 year Marine Corps career.

I had almost 19 years as an enlisted man (ultimately attaining the grade of Master Gunnery Sergeant E9) that culminated in my being selected for, and serving my last three years as, an officer. Marines with this dual service are referred to as “Mustangs” (meaning a Marine who, after having served on active duty in the enlisted ranks of the United States Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve, has risen to the officer ranks and further served as a commissioned or warrant officer on either active duty or reserve status. The title includes all such Marines: active duty, reserve, retired, and/or honorably discharged. See:

My peacetime service included assignments as an administrative chief, military subjects instructor, and as the legal chief at battalion and base levels. I had two tours of recruiting duty (NY/NJ and KY) and was the Headquarters Marine Corps Legal Assistance Chief. In between these assignments I participated in Presidents Harry Truman’s and Lyndon Johnson’s Inauguration Day ceremonies, as well as at the somber funerals of President John F. Kennedy and former Vice President (under Harry Truman) Senator Alben W. Barkley. Under the Commandant’s annual “Technique of Instruction” contests, I was twice the No. 1 winner (Quantico and Camp Lejeune), and placed 4th in the (one and only) Marine Corps-wide competition. I was fortunate to work with or for several Marine Medal of Honor recipients, and performed legal services for then-Lt.Col. John Glenn of Marine and Astronaut fame.

My combat assignments were as an ATA Section Leader, Wpns Co, 1st Bn, 5th Mar, and Platoon Sergeant, Easy Co, 2nd Bn, 5th Mar in Korea, and as the Third Marine Division Awards Officer in Vietnam. Upon returning from Vietnam my last assignment was as the Adjutant and Casualty Notification Officer at Andrews Air Force Base. My service awards include two Navy Commendation Medals w/Combat “V,” the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, the Korean Service Medal w/three stars, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Vietnam Service Medal w/two stars, the UN Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, Korean War Service Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm (unit award), the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Bronze Star (personal award), and six Good Conduct Medals. I also have the Rifle Expert medal with two bars and the Pistol Sharpshooter Medal.

Upon my retirement from the Marine Corps in 1968, I served the next 18 years with the U. S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. I managed one of their largest field organizations and served in a variety of PCES and PES positions until I was commissioned Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General, one of only 34 Officer positions in the Postal Service. During this time I attended college at night and attained B.S.A. (1973) and M.S.A. (1977) degrees from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.I then worked another 12 years for the journals of two defense-related associations, as a Director for the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA: SIGNAL Magazine), and as Vice President and Associate Publisher for the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA: NATIONAL Defense Magazine). My wife and I have been married 53 years, and have a son and daughter and two grandsons. They reside in Potomac Falls, VA.


I subscribe to a variety of military-related newsletters (but no “chat rooms”) and exchange correspondence with similar-minded individuals, military and civilian (the latter usually because they have family members who served or are serving in the military). I also receive requests from individuals asking for suggestions or advice on a variety of topics. This ranges anywhere from something as simple as how to locate a current or former military individual to how to proceed to get a military award for themselves or a former buddy as far back as the Korean War to the Vietnam War. The latter requests usually state they were aware of my former experience as an awards officer during the Vietnam War, gleaned either from something I wrote about in a newsletter, or from the biography I may have used when taking advantage of registering on a site or searching for someone on others.

Lately however, not only have the requests been increasing on the subject of awards in general, but something new (to me, anyway) has developed. Individuals are asking about the “criteria” for receiving awards, and “questioning” and even “challenging” the awards (particularly the more senior awards of the Silver Star Medal, The Navy Cross, and even the Medal of Honor) that named individuals received. It is not my intention to agree or disagree with the allegations made against any individual named in this essay by anyone. Having said that, I do agree that they have every right to raise the issue(s) they do, and to demand accountability. I share their disdain for those who would wear an award that was not legitimately earned in very sense of the criteria for that award. This is even more critical considering today’s political climate and the country’s national elections on the horizon. If someone running for political office is the subject to such challenges, that is fair game, and the truth needs to come out.

I recently read a very interesting article written by a respected attorney, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, in his newsletter (see dealing with the question whether a current political candidate earned some military awards he has. Professor Holzer and his wife have also written two books about individuals giving “Aid and Comfort” to enemies of our country, and the “wannabees” or “fake warriors” becoming increasingly prevalent with such stories appearing almost weekly in newspapers around the country (see, www.talibanjohn,info,, In Fake Warriors the authors have undertaken the arduous task of "identifying, exposing, and punishing individuals who falsify their military service,” almost as a “calling.”

I was so impressed with Professor Holzer’s well-written article that, omitting any names, I wrote this response:

I just read an e-mailed story allegedly written by you about John Kerry’s award of the Silver Star Medal. (I say "allegedly" because I'm sure that like me, you probably have also been burned before "assuming" too much about forwarded Email stories, some of which turn out to be hoaxes). My remarks herein do assume you are the author of this well-written piece. If you are not, please disregard my commentary.

Like you, I truly hope that Senator Kerry not only has "documentation" for his Silver Star Medal, and also that it was a "deserved" and bona-fide award.

From 1966-67, with 18 years enlisted service behind me, ultimately achieving the grade of Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9) and service in the Korean War as a Platoon Sergeant, I found myself wearing shiny new Second Lieutenant bars in Vietnam as a 36-year old Mustang Officer. (Talk about life changes!). No doubt due to my age and enlisted experience I was assigned the job of Assistant Division Adjutant and Awards Officer for the Third Marine Division, a job normally assigned to more senior officers. I was also a voting member of the Division Awards Board.

The award recommendation procedures described in your story are very accurate and similar in the main to the medal award recommendation procedures our Division required and followed. Purple Heart Medals were approved at the unit level. All other personal awards, including the Navy Commendation, Bronze and Silver Star Medals, the Navy Cross and Medal of Honor (MOH) required the approval/concurrence of the Division's Commanding General (CG) and then the CG, III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF). Navy Cross and MOH recommendations were forwarded by III MAF through their chain of command ultimately to the Marine Corps Commandant in Washington.

With the help of five outstanding enlisted men it was my responsibility to ensure that the required eye witness statements and other documentation was included and verified before any award recommendation went to the Division Awards Board and then on to the CG as set out above. It was not at all uncommon for me to visit forward units to assist them in obtaining and/or verifying witness’s statements and help with drafting award recommendations.

You are also correct in your assertion that "The (awards) system is open to a certain amount of back scratching." To that you can add a dash of "military politics." There is also an unwritten “rank order” for certain award recommendations. Few, if any, Legion of Merit medals are given to Lieutenants or Captains, but are usually reserved for field grade and higher officer grades; Bronze Star Medals for "meritorious service" are also scarce for Lance Corporals or Sergeants. Lieutenants and Captains are fortunate to get Navy Commendations Medals while many enlisted personnel get Navy Achievement Medals, both of which can also include the “Combat V.” You are also right that the "Combat V" award added to these awards separates "meritorious performance" from combat award achievements in the majority of cases. Individuals authorized the "Combat V" usually also earned (or were later awarded ) the Combat Action Ribbon, also a personal award with its own significant criteria.

As for "military politics" there is indeed room for subtle “influence” in the award of any medal. Many Marines believe any one or more of General Chesty Puller's five Navy Crosses could just as easily have been approved as a Medal of Honor! So too could many of the Navy Crosses awarded other individuals during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars met the criteria for a MOH. Likewise, many Bronze and Silver Star Medal recommendations could also have been approved at the next senior award, but in many cases were "downgraded" to the lesser award. But to its credit, the Marine Corps correctly is very "stingy" approving large numbers of awards and in most cases maintains a strict discipline in its criteria for approving awards. Many Marines, past and present, frown on individuals getting medals “for just doing their jobs."

I worked for two different Commanding Generals in Vietnam, both Major Generals, Wood B. Kyle and his successor, Bruno A. Hochmuth. Both of them took a very personal interest in the Division's and Marine Corps' awards criteria and system. I worked very closely with both of them, and their Chiefs of Staff, ensuring a fair and equitable system was in place.

Your article about Senator Kerry’s Silver Star Medal brought back these memories and experiences from almost 40 years ago.

Just thought you might appreciate this little bit of Marine Corps awards history that parallels what you so eloquently wrote about. I haven't read your books annotated at the end of your article, but look forward to finding and reading both of them.

Semper Fidelis,

Gerald F. Merna
1st Lt USMC (Ret.)”

Professor Holzer included my letter in the next issue of his Fake Warriors newsletter, resulting in my receiving several replies almost immediately. It was the following response from a retired Navy SEAL that put me to work doing a little research in order to answer this question he posed:

Sir: I read your account of medal awards during Viet Nam with much interest, as I am in the process of writing a book in which two SEAL "heroes" will be shown to have wrongly received their awards--one SS and one MOH.

The MOH is Bob Kerrey who was wounded and evacuated--that's all that happened--period. He knows that he did nothing to earn the MOH, and yet he took it. What I'm trying to do is get to the bottom of the political situation that resulted in the decision being made to award him the medal. I was told over 30 years ago that it was a political decision, and I'm trying to find out just what happened. Do you have any suggestions as to how to proceed? My one witness now claims not to remember telling me that story.

Thank you.

[Name], retired SEAL

I responded to this request for assistance as follows:

Hopefully this will respond to your above email of 31 January 2004 asking for a “little advice” to use with your book about two individuals you feel either did not earn or deserve their respective awards of the Silver Star Medal (SSM0 and the Medal of Honor (MOH). With your best “witness” having a memory loss, you have quite a challenge.

In no way do I consider myself an expert on this subject despite the experience I was privileged to have as the Third Marine Division Awards Officer in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. This experience of mine is what you read in Professor Holzer’s recent “Fake Warrior” newsletter.

Probably the best suggestion I can give you is to make a strong effort to obtain the written “evidence” or confirmation of the awards used to justify these awards from the military service concerned. You can initially just request them as an individual, and if you get “stonewalled” or no response at all, then request them under the “Freedom of Information Act.” Also, since you are writing a book, you can probably also claim the status as a “journalist” in requesting this documentation. As you know, there are very stringent requirements in place for granting such high awards, and you have the right to have the military service produce the documentation, especially the “eyewitness” statements upon which these awards, now in the public domain, were approved.

I also recommend you look into a few books I am familiar with that go into some detail on the subject of military awards in one form or another. You will note in the almost unanimous writings that eyewitness statements are always required, and that a definitive awards protocol must be followed in processing/approving all awards. These books will also impress you with the bravery and courage of our nation’s hero’s and their deeds, further enabling your “mind set” and determination as you go about your writing task.

Here are a few books I have in my library that I recommend to you :

*Heroes of WWII by Edward F. Murphy, 1990 (also the author of Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes).

*Korean War Heroes by Edward F. Murphy, 1992, published by Presidio Press, Novato, CA

*The Navy Cross –Vietnam: Citations of Awards to Men of the U. S. Navy and U. S. Marine Corps, 1964-1973, published 1987, Edited by Paul Drew Stevens, Sharp & Dunnigan Publications.

*HEROES: U. S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor Winners, Marc Cerasini, 2002, Berkeley.


*United States Military MEDALS & RIBBONS, 1971, By Philip K. Robles, Charles E. Tuttle Co.

In most of these books you will find telling and concrete examples and/or explanations about the awards processes that should help you focus your writing. A few examples follow:

(1) Murphy’s Heroes of WWII clearly defines the MOH criteria as:

“Only an act of the most conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, far above and beyond the call of duty, in the presence of an armed enemy merits the Medal of Honor. The deed must involve a clear risk of life. It must be the type of voluntary acts which, if the hero did not do it, would not subject him to undue criticism. In addition, at least two eyewitnesses must attest to the deed. By adhering to these strict criteria the armed forces have reserved the Medal of Honor solely for the “bravest of the brave.”

In my article (to Professor Holzer) I mentioned that “military pressure” is sometimes exerted when awards are being recommended. Murphy’s book describes an example where this “pressure” backfired. He tells about General Douglas McArthur’s vehement disapproval of a Medal of Honor for General Jonathan M. Wainwright that was recommended by General Marshall. As you may recall, Wainwright was the Commanding General, United States Forces in the Philippines, who commanded the 1942 epic retreat in the Bataan peninsula after General MacArthur’s departure during the Philippines campaign. Wainwright was taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942 and was not released until 1945. Murphy writes that “Rarely had such a damning letter been written by one senior officer (McArthur) against another (Wainwright.)” Gen. McArthur’s raging disapproval included some harshly worded objections to Gen. Marshall’s MOH recommendation for Wainwright, including: “the award (to Wainwright) would be a grave injustice” and “a grave mistake which later on might well lead to embarrassing repercussions to make this award.”

Despite Gen. McArthur’s objections, Gen. Wainwright not only received a tumultuous welcome home by the American people that included a ticker tape parade down Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue, a standing ovation before both houses of Congress, but more meaningfully, a White House ceremony where President Harry S.Truman awarded him the coveted Medal of Honor.

There may be some who still question the MOH for Gen. Wainwright, especially if you contrast what some consider the rather vague, general and brief citation for his MOH with those of many other MOH citations for our nation's highest military award. This is what Gen. Wainwright’s citation said:

“[General Wainwright] distinguished himself by intrepid and determined leadership against greatly superior enemy forces. At the repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in his position, he frequented the firing line of his troops where his presence provided the example and incentive that helped make the gallant efforts of these men possible. The final stand on beleaguered Corregidor, for which he was in an important measure personally responsible, commanded the admiration of the Nation's allies. It reflected the high morale of American arms in the face of overwhelming odds. His courage and resolution were a vitally needed inspiration to the then sorely pressed freedom-loving peoples of the world. “

You will note there are no specific mentions or examples of what constituted his “repeated risk of life above and beyond the call of duty” other than “he frequented the firing line of his troops…” To some, this sounds much like citations justifying some Legion of Merit or other meritorious awards received by senior officers. Again, compare Wainwright’s citation to those MOH citations in any of the books cited above and the differences jump out at you. Perhaps there is other documentation that gives more detail than what was reflected in Gen. Wainwright’s final citation? If not, is it possible General McArthur was possibly correct in objecting to this award? This is something you will want to distinguish in reviewing any documents you may be able to obtain.

Murphy also provides two noted and unusual examples that elucidate the uniqueness, rarity and prestige of the MOH. He writes that President Truman was allegedly quoted telling a Korean War hero that he would “rather have this medal than be President.” Murphy also said Gen. George S. Patton told another WW II II MOH recipient that “I’d give my immortal soul for that medal.” The feelings expressed in these examples are shared by almost all military members, and certainly even the majority of civilians who may not know as much about military awards. This is also something for you to contemplate as you go about trying to challenge the awards you are questioning.

This further additional paragraph in Murphy’s book adds an exclamation point to the two above examples:

“Today, the Medal of Honor is the most prestigious of all decorations. A strict review process ensures that the medal will not be conferred on unworthy candidates. The standards are so high that over fifty-five percent of the medals awarded since World War I have been posthumous. Nearly seventy percent of the Medals of Honor awarded for the Korean War and the Vietnam War went to heroes who lost their lives as a result of their bravery. Those who wear the Medal of Honor are truly a special breed.”

Finally, this passage from Murphy somewhat mirrors what I wrote concerning my Awards Officer duties in Vietnam, and reinforces all of the above:

“To assure that only the most deserving heroes received this ultimate recognition, both the army and the navy created internal decorations boards to review recommendations for awards. There were various levels of boards each award recommendation had to pass, beginning at the divisional level. The higher the proposed medal, the longer the review process. Recommendations for the Medal of Honor went all the way back to Washington, D.C., where senior, combat-tested officers reviewed the supporting documentation. They, as well as any of the intermediate boards, could downgrade the Medal of Honor recommendation to a lesser award, or conversely, upgrade a recommendation for another medal to the Medal of Honor.”

(2) In HEROES: U. S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor Winners, author Marc Cerasini has this passage: “The deeds of the person considered for this honor (MOH) must be proved by uncontestable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses. It must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes his gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery. It must involve the risk of his life and it must be a deed that, if he had not done it, would not have subjected him to any justified criticism. “Since the end of the Civil War, the requirements for the nation’s highest military honor have become much more stringent. Far fewer Medals of Honor have been awarded in subsequent conflicts, and some awarded during the Civil War are no longer recognized.”

Apparently “eyewitness” statements do not have to come only from another military man. When Marine Sgt. Maj. John H. Quick received his MOH, Cerasini provides this account of an unusual eyewitness:

“To receive the Medal of Honor it is necessary to have an eyewitness attest to the soldier’s act of courage. In this respect Sergeant Quick was fortunate indeed, for watching his brave action from the safety of the underbrush was renowned journalist, war correspondent, and novelist Stephen Crane, author of the Civil War classic The Red Badge of Courage. Crane, who had accompanied the Marines to Cuzco Well, marveled at Sergeant Quick’s tranquility under fire.” (Crane went on to detail in writing the specific bravery for which Quick received his Medal of Honor).

(3) In his book, The Navy Cross –Vietnam: Citations of Awards to Men of the U. S. Navy and U. S. Marine Corps, 1964-1973, Editor Paul Drew Stevens explains that the Navy Cross was established by Congress in 1919 because until then the Medal of Honor was the only award given in the name of Congress. As a result, it then became necessary to review all awards of the MOH to ensure its integrity as our Nation’s highest award. The "review" had this result:

“Established in 1861 the MOH was awarded for ‘gallantry in action and other seaman-like (soldier-like) qualities.’ With this broad criterion, two thousand six hundred twenty-five Medals of Honor were awarded between 1862 and 1916. When a permanent Medal of Honor Board was established as part of a sweeping review of the entire awards and decorations procedures of the military, nine hundred ten awards of the MOH were recalled (eight hundred sixty-four of those recalled had been awarded to members of one regiment, the 27th Maine, by President Lincoln as inducement to continue guarding the capitol past the approaching end of their enlistment). (Underlining supplied). No awards to Navy personnel were, or have since been, recalled.”

“It had become clear during the First World War that one medal alone could not effectively recognize the full range of exceptional service, including heroism. So the criteria of the MOH was elevated to be awarded to: ‘one who shall in action with an enemy, distinguish himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.’ Stringent requirements for documentation were imposed, and new awards were created in a descending order of precedence.”

Finally, I like how this Editor defined the types of men who received the Navy Cross during the Vietnam War:

“These are the official accounts of the acts of extraordinary heroism of 483 men who were awarded this high honor. Here are riflemen and riverboat patrolmen, machine gunners and medical corpsmen, SEALS, squad leaders and surgeons, infantry officers, pilots and prisoners of war. They served with honor, and these are the testimonials to the quality of their service.”

To this list today you can add Chaplains, administrative and maintenance personnel, truck drivers, communications and electronics experts, and others who found themselves in harms way under extraordinary circumstances, and acted in an heroic manner.

(4) In her book, HEROES U. S. MARINE CORPS 1861 -- 1955, ARMED FORCES AWARDS -- FLAGS – REFERENCE BOOK, 1957, author Jane Blakeney gave this 1933 quotation from James F. McKinley, Brigadier General, Acting The Adjutant General, upon the inauguration of the Army’s Silver Star Medal:

“The Silver Star is NOT awarded for regimental citations, meritorious service or conduct not performed in action against an enemy.

“The Silver Star is NOT awarded for citations accompanying the award of the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, or by reason of the award of the Purple Heart or any foreign decorations.

“Citations to justify the award of the Silver Star must be for individual acts of gallantry. The citation of a military unit does not entitle the individual members of that unit to the Silver Star.”

(5) Another authoritative definition on the criteria for the Silver Star Medal is found in Philip K. Robles’ United States Military MEDALS & RIBBONS:

“The Silver Star Medal may be awarded to any person—military, civilian, or foreign—who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Armed Forces, distinguishes himself by gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. Gallantry in action means heroism of high degree involving risk of life.”

Two interesting details stand out in all of the above. First is the explicit and continued use of the masculine terms “he,” “himself,” “his,” and “military man.” This of course was all before military women, except for medical and some support personnel, began playing prominent roles in combat environments such as in Desert Storm in 1991, and in a major way today in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just within the past several weeks Army helicopter pilot Capt. Kimberly N. Hampton’s helicopter was shot down in Iraq and her death reverberates throughout the country. And only months ago Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch was awarded not only the Purple Heart Medal, but also the Prisoner of War and Bronze Star Medals. I’m certain that before the current war on terrorism is over a significant number of women will distinguish themselves and receive even higher military awards.

Second, certain words and phrases are used repeatedly with little or no definition. It would be well for those recommending individuals for awards to at least have knowledge of these terms and their definitions; and for those in reviewing and approving positions to have them handy when writing and/or processing award citations. There is no doubt many of these phrases or terms are used with reckless abandon or as “buzzwords” to justify some awards. These are some of the words or phrases (that I put in italics above) that bear noting. I have included my opinion as what definition is appropriate, researching them as best I could:

Beyond the call of duty: Though this is somewhat of a redundant expression—above and beyond here both denote excess, and often precedes the call of duty, which means exceeding what a particular job requires. When used in heroism award recommendations, it has come to be defined as: “to a degree that is past the understanding, reach, or scope of normalcy”; and in the extreme, “the world beyond death; the hereafter”.

Brave: courageous, fearless, intrepid, bold, audacious, valiant, valorous.

Distinguished: Characterized by excellence or distinction; towering or standing out above others.

Eyewitness: A person who has seen someone or something firsthand and can bear witness to the fact.

Exceptional: Deviating widely from a norm, as of physical or mental ability.

Gallantry: The quality or state of being heroic: heroism, prowess, valiance, valor.

Prestigious: Widely known and esteemed.

Risk of life: It is somewhat difficult to state the precise meaning of the sense of this phrase, and while some may have other definitions, it is not unusual for it to be defined as one’s using his physical, moral, and ethical strength, or other qualities, to wage war and conquer territory by physically engaging in battles including those possibly involving hand-to-hand combat, while risking one’s own life in the process.

Ultimate: The greatest extreme; the maximum.

Uncontestable: Impossible to contest, dispute or challenge.

I hope you get as much out of this rather lengthy discussion as I did writing it. If it is helpful, that’s great. If not, please let me know and perhaps I can help more.

Let me close this subject about military awards with two very appropriate quotes from another of America's heroes:

“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows not fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened. The courageous man is the man who forces himself, in spite of his fear, to carry on. Discipline, pride, self-respect, self-confidence, and the love of glory are attributes which will make a man courageous even when he is afraid.” General George S. Patton, Jr., War As I knew It, 1947.

“The result of decorations works two ways. It makes the men who get them proud and determined to get more, and it makes the men who have not received them jealous and determined to get some in order to even up. It is the greatest thing we have for building a fighting heart.” General George S. Patton, quoted in Semmes, Portrait of Patton, 1955.

Semper Fidelis, Jerry Merna


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: fakewarriors; kerry; medals; militaryawards
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Lt. Merna provides a sound professional basis in investigating the military awards given to a political figure who lobbied for the enemy in 1971 and seeks to become the commander in chief today.
1 posted on 02/07/2004 4:02:03 PM PST by PhilDragoo
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To: ALOHA RONNIE; Alamo-Girl; BOBTHENAILER; Darksheare; FairOpinion; MeekOneGOP; autoresponder; ...

John F. Kerry: "War Hero" or Urinal Target?

2 posted on 02/07/2004 4:09:50 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo

Kerry graduated from Yale University in 1966.
Like John F. Kennedy (who served on a World War II patrol boat, PT 109), Kerry sought to do the same. He enlisted in the Navy and became an officer.
After training, Kerry volunteered for Vietnam. He served a relatively uneventful six months, far removed from combat, from December 1967 to June 1968, in the electrical department aboard the USS Gridley, a guided-missile frigate that supported aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
His ship returned to its Long Beach, Calif., port on June 6, 1968. Five months later, Kerry went back to Vietnam, securing an assignment as "swift boat" skipper.
Kerry commanded his first swift boat, No. 44, from December 1968 through January 1969.
While in command of Swift Boat 44, Kerry and crew operated without prudence in a Free Fire Zone, carelessly firing at targets of opportunity racking up a number of enemy kills and some civilians. His body count included-- a woman, her baby, a 12 year-old boy, an elderly man and several South Vietnamese soldiers.
"It is one of those terrible things, and I'll never forget, ever, the sight of that child," Kerry later said about the dead baby. "But there was nothing that anybody could have done about it. It was the only instance of that happening."
Kerry said he was appalled that the Navy's ''free fire zone'' policy in Vietnam put civilians at such high risk.
Kerry experienced his first intense combat action on Dec. 2, 1968. He was slightly wounded on his arm, earning his first Purple Heart.
In late January 1969, Kerry joined a five-man crew on swift boat No. 94 completing 18 missions over 48 days, almost all of them in the Mekong Delta.
Kerry earned his second Purple Heart after sustaining a minor shrapnel wound in his left thigh on Feb. 20, 1969.

On February 28, 1969:
When Kerry's Patrol Craft Fast 94 received a B-40 rocket shot from shore, he hot dogged his craft beaching it in the center of the enemy position. To his surprise, an enemy soldier sprang up from a hole not ten feet from Patrol Craft 94 and fled.
The boat's machine gunner hit and wounded the fleeing Viet Cong as he darted behind a hootch. The twin .50s gunner fired at the Viet Cong. He said he "laid 50 rounds" into the hootch before Kerry leaped from the boat and dashed in to administer a "coup de grace" to the wounded Viet Cong. Kerry returned with the B-40 rocket and launcher.
Kerry was given a Silver Star for his actions.

On March 13, 1969, a mine detonated near Kerry's boat, slighting wounding Kerry in the right arm. He was awarded his third Purple Heart.

When later asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it.

After his third Purple Heart Kerry requested to be sent home. Navy rules, he pointed out, allowed a thrice-wounded soldier to return to the United States immediately.
Commodore Charles F. Horne, an administrative official and commander of the coastal squadron in which Kerry served, filled out a document on March 17, 1969, that said Kerry had "been thrice wounded in action while on duty incountry Vietnam. Reassignment is requested ... as a personal aide in Boston, New York, or Wash., D.C. area.

In October 1969, Kerry began to associate with anti-war protestor, Adam Walinsky, a former speech writer for Robert F. Kennedy.
On Jan. 3, 1970, Kerry requested that his superior, Rear Admiral Walter F. Schlech, Jr., grant him an early discharge from the Navy so that he could run for Congress.
Kerry, a decorated veteran who seemed to be a clone of former President John F. Kennedy, right down to the military service on a patrol boat made a 1970 bid for Congress in Massachusetts' Third District.
Three-months later, when it became clear his opponent would get the Democratic Party nomination, Kerry dropped out.
3 posted on 02/07/2004 4:17:04 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: PhilDragoo
War Hero" or Urinal Target?

Gee, that's a tough one.
4 posted on 02/07/2004 4:18:42 PM PST by Valin (Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.)
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To: PhilDragoo; kdf1; AMERIKA; Lancey Howard; MudPuppy; SMEDLEYBUTLER; opbuzz; Snow Bunny; ...
Major Bump
5 posted on 02/07/2004 4:19:30 PM PST by RaceBannon (John Kerry is Vietnam's Benedict Arnold: Former War Hero turned Traitor)
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To: PhilDragoo
Interesting read. Unfortunately, questioning Kerry's Silver Star is probably not a profitable enterprise. He can stand on it and the questioners will not look good.

The same difficulty arose with John McCain's behavior as a POW. Some Vietnam Vets have said that McCain's behavior while a POW was questionable. But that's the kind of charge that will never make anyone popular.

Kerry ran around behind a hut and shot a wounded man. Was that heroic? I suppose it depends on how badly he was wounded and whether he was still capable of firing his rocket launcher. Who knows?
6 posted on 02/07/2004 4:22:40 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: PhilDragoo
All Officers in VN were automatically awarded Bronze Stars and if they did anything, the Silver Star. The higher your rank, the higher the medal. This, unfortunately, degraded the medals' worth.

The U.S.Army, in some units, passed out the Bronze Stars as they would have a Good Conduct Medal - further denegrating the award.

Silver Stars, for an enlisted, no matter which service, were EARNED - usually at the expense of your life. Higher awards definitely deserve the utmost respect.

The Navy/Army/AF Cross and higher HAD to be earned.

Just my personal experience in the USMC from Jan 69 - Mar 81

Awards given out by rank:

2nd Lt = Bronze Star
1st Lt = Bronze or Silver
Captain = Silver
Major/Lt Col = Silver + Legion Merit, etc
Col + = Whatever they wanted almost

7 posted on 02/07/2004 4:31:15 PM PST by steplock (
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To: PhilDragoo
8 posted on 02/07/2004 4:36:05 PM PST by Jackson Brown
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To: PhilDragoo
Great thread Dragoo
9 posted on 02/07/2004 4:37:00 PM PST by kimosabe31
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To: PhilDragoo
I vote for "Urinal Target" or "War Zero"

10 posted on 02/07/2004 4:38:26 PM PST by SAMWolf (I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.)
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To: PhilDragoo
Kerry: Good enough for Dukakis, good enough for me ?? ...

11 posted on 02/07/2004 4:59:59 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (Check out this HILARIOUS story !! haha!:
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To: PhilDragoo; Valin; Travis McGee; My2Cents; Wolfstar; Howlin; windchime; Tamsey; ohioWfan; ...
Phil and valin: BOOKMARKED.

I'd love to know if Kerry ever commented on Lt. Calley?
12 posted on 02/07/2004 5:48:48 PM PST by onyx (Your secrets are safe with me and all my friends.)
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To: SAMWolf

13 posted on 02/07/2004 5:53:35 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo

I still have a "Frag Fonda" button on my AmVets cap.

14 posted on 02/07/2004 6:18:52 PM PST by SAMWolf (I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.)
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To: PhilDragoo
When Marine Sgt. Maj. John H. Quick received his MOH, Cerasini provides this account of an unusual eyewitness:

As of a year ago you could view Sgt. Maj. Quick's MOH along with his other medals in the small museum at Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri. Presumably, they are still on display there. John Henry Quick is buried in St. Louis

           Sgt. Maj. John Henry Quick


America's Fifth Column ... watch PBS documentary JIHAD! In America (Requires RealPlayer)

Who is Steve Emerson?

15 posted on 02/07/2004 6:20:12 PM PST by JCG
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To: PhilDragoo
He's a urinal target or worse, but the info we're looking for is buried.
Hopefully not buried deep enough.
16 posted on 02/07/2004 6:23:33 PM PST by Darksheare (The SCARES will haunt the mind, eventually inducing derangement and senility!)
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To: onyx; PhilDragoo
Very informative post. Thanks!
17 posted on 02/07/2004 6:24:59 PM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: PhilDragoo
Interesting to read about MacArthur's opposition to Wainwright getting a MOH. Maybe guilt over the knowledge his own MOH for his actions in the Philippines was undeserved?
18 posted on 02/07/2004 6:37:56 PM PST by GATOR NAVY
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To: PhilDragoo; MeekOneGOP; onyx; My2Cents; JohnHuang2; Dog Gone; Dog; isthisnickcool; OKSooner; VOA; ..
All --

Please read what Phil has posted about Kerry's medals!

19 posted on 02/07/2004 6:38:10 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Support Bush-Cheney '04)
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To: PhilDragoo; MeekOneGOP; onyx; My2Cents; JohnHuang2; Dog Gone; Dog; isthisnickcool; OKSooner; VOA; ..
All --

Please read what Phil has posted about Kerry's medals!

20 posted on 02/07/2004 6:38:45 PM PST by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Support Bush-Cheney '04)
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