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Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado

 

Movie flap puts focus on fake medals

By JOHN NORTON
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Publish Date: July 27, 2005

When Puebloans Pam and Doug Sterner came up with the idea to criminalize the faking of military decorations, they knew that it would be an uphill battle.

"But people told us that when we wanted Pueblo called the ‘Home of Heroes,’ ” Doug Sterner said.

The couple's campaign received a big boost over the past few days from an unlikely source: Hollywood.

It wasn't an inspiring war movie but rather a comedy about a pair of scoundrels, one of whom uses a fake Purple Heart to attract girls.

"Wedding Crashers" drew weekend movie crowds second only to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," but also caused a major flap among military veterans organizations when the movie's Web site offered an image of a Purple Heart that could be downloaded.

The producers took the medal image off the site Monday after an uproar from a number of veterans groups and a complaint from Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., who coincidentally has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would make it a crime to falsely claim any military decoration.

Salazar's bill, HR3352, is currently before the House Judiciary Committee.

Called the "Stolen Valor Act of 2005," the bill calls for up to a year in prison or a fine for anyone falsely claiming to have earned any medal awarded by Congress or the military.

Fellow Colorado Democrat Mark Udall on Friday signed on to the bill as a co-sponsor and the flap caused by the movie Web site has generated a flurry of support.

A spokeswoman for Salazar's office said Tuesday: "We've had an overwhelming response from veterans around the country. In fact, the FBI Agent Association called to give us their endorsement today.

"We're expecting a broad base of bipartisan support. We have yet to reach out to individual offices, but already have the support of Reps. Geoff Davis, R-Ky.; Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.; Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Bob Filner, D-Calif.; Kendrick Meek, D-Fla.; Lane Evans, D-Ill. and Tim Ryan, D-Ohio."

Salazar added, "I couldn't imagine anyone not getting behind this bill. It's about defending the honor of our veterans and their service."

The Sterners, who worked for years on the Home of Heroes project honoring Pueblo's four Medal of Honor recipients, already had received some attention to their cause after exposing several people around the country claiming to have received Medals of Honor.

Last year, as part of a political science class on policy analysis at CSU-Pueblo, Mrs. Sterner wrote a paper advocating a law prohibiting such false claims. The couple suggested the idea to lawmakers but it was a meeting in March with freshman Congressman Salazar that got things going.

Mrs. Sterner said they originally wanted to go after people claiming to have Medals of Honor, Distinguished Service Crosses, Navy Crosses and Air Force Crosses, but she said Salazar suggested extending it to all military decorations, including the Purple Heart, awarded for wounds suffered in combat.

Salazar drew up the legislation and introduced it last Tuesday.

The bill might have gotten attention on its own merits but the flap over the movie promotion has brought calls from a number of national media outlets to both Salazar's office and the Sterners. They've given phone interviews steadily over the past few days and on Tuesday a crew from Fox News' Denver bureau taped the couple at the Pueblo Convention Center where the city's Medal of Honor monument is located.

The television crew had to work around tourists who daily gather at the monument, which features bronze images of Puebloans William Crawford, Carl Sitter, Jerry Murphy and Drew Dix. Pueblo has the distinction of producing four Medal of Honor recipients.

Robert and Leila Luedeking, visiting from Pullman, Wash., were being guided around the site by Puebloan Anne Simms while the Sterners were being interviewed. Upon hearing about the Sterners' campaign, Luedeking offered his support for arresting fakers. "They should be in the hoosegow," he said.

 

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James Fields (Left) regaled the audience in Chillicothe, MO, on veterans day with tales of his heroism that earned him a Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam while serving under Lt. Col. Oliver North. The same day in St. Louis, Michael Wielbacher showed up for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball wearing the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal, along with a two Silver Stars with "V", four Bronze, and more. Both were bogus heroes. Wielbacher is prosecutable but Fields is NOT (he was wearing a Navy Cross PIN, not the Medal. Both are exposed in this excellent report from the St. Louis Fox Affiliate.

Watch the Video Report of these "American Heroes"

Video Archives from Last Year's Stolen Valor Stories

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Channel 13 - Pueblo

FOX NEWS - GREAT!!

FOX 31 - Talk Show

MORE Video Reports are available in our NEWS SECTION

Note: While journalists do not endorse legislation in order to maintain impartiality, we are pleased to share with you the following congratulatory remarks by a leader in American news broadcasting: 

"I congratulate Congressman Salazar for getting on this case and I am with him all the way." 
Bob Schieffer, CBS Evening News 

Stolen Valor Act of 2005
H.R. 3352 & S. 1998

.

News

Read/Download the Policy Analysis Paper that is the basis for this legislation.

Policy Analysis
Webpage

Policy Analysis
WORD Doc.

Policy Analysis
WORD PDF

Contact Congressman Salazar

John T. Salazar (CO-3) SPONSOR
111 Members of Congress Co-Sponsoring This Bill in the House
(Sorted By State & District)

(AL-5) Robert Bud Cramer 
(AR-1) Marion Berry  
(AR-4) Mike Ross 
(AZ-7) Raul Grijalva  
(CA-1) Mike Thompson 
(CA-8) Nancy Pelosi
(CA-15 Mike Honda 
(CA-18) Dennis Cardoza 
(CA-20) Jim Costa 
(CA-29) Adam Schiff 
(CA-33) Diane Watson 
(CA-38) Grace Napolitano 
(CA-43) Joe Baca 
(CA-51) Bob Filner 
(CO-2) Mark Udall 
(
FL-2) Allen Boyd  
(FL-17) Kendrick Meek 
(FL-23) Alcee Hastings  
(GA-3) Jim Marshall  
(GA-12) John Barrow  
(GU)  Madeleine Bordallo
((HI-2) Ed Case  
(IA-3) Leonard Boswell 
(IL-4) Luis Gurierrez  
(IL-5) Rahm Emanuel 
(IN-7) Julia Carson  
(KS-3) Dennis Moore  
.(KY-6) Ben Chandler  
(LA-3) Charlie Melancon
(MD-4) Albert Wynn
(MD-5) Steny Hoyer  
(ME-1) Thomas Allen 
(ME-2) Michael Michaud
(MI-5) Dale Kildee
(MI-14) John Conyers
(MN-7) Colin Peterson  
(MS-4) Gene Taylor  
(NC-7) Mike McIntyre  
(ND) Earl Pomeroy  
(NJ-9) Steven Rothman
(
NJ-13) Robert Mendez (NM-3) Tom Udall  
(NV-1) Shelly Berkley
(NY-2) Steve Israel  
(NY-4) Carolyn McCarthy 
(NY-12 )Nydia Velazquez  
(NY-16) Jose Serrano  
(NY-22) Maurice Hinchey
(OH-6) Ted Strickland  
(OH-13) Sherrod Brown  
(OH-17) Tim Ryan  
(OK-2) Dan Boren  
(OR-5) Darlene Hooley  
(PA-17) Tim Holden  
(SD) Stephanie Herseth  
(TN-4) Lincoln Davis  
(TN-5) Jim Cooper  
(TN-6) Bart Gordon 
(TN-8) John Tanner  
(TN-9) Harold Ford  
(TX-15) Ruben Hinojosa  
(TX-16) Silvestre Reyes  
(TX-20) Charles Gonzalez
 (TX-25) Lloyd Doggett  
(TX-27) Solomon Ortiz  
(TX-28) Henry Cuellar  
(TX-29) Gene Green  
(TX-30) Eddie B. Johnson
(UT-3) Jim Matheson  
(WA-3) Brian Baird  
(WA-7) Jim McDermott
(WA-9) Adam Smith  
(WV-3) Nick Rahall  
.
NOTE: ALL SIX Representatives from Kentucky, including members of BOTH parties, have signed on as co-sponsors for this bill. Way to go KENTUCKY.


(AL-6) Spencer Bachus
(AZ-1) Rick Renzi
(CA-41) Jerry Lewis
(CA-44) Ken Calvert
(CO-4) Marilyn Musgrave
(CO-6) Tom Tancredo  
CO-7) Bob Beauprez
(CT-2) Rob Simmons
(IL-16) Donald Manzullo
(IN-4) Steve Buyer
(IN-5) Dan Burton
(IN-8) John Hostettler
(KY-1) Ed Whitfield 
(KY-2) Ron Lewis  
(KY3) Anne Northup  
(KY-4) Geoff Davis  
(KY-5) Harold Rogers  
(LA-5) Rodney Alexander
(MI-8) Mike Rogers
(MI-11) Thaddeus McCotter
(MN-2) John Kline  
(MO-6) Sam Graves
(NC-8) Robin Hayes
(NE-1) Jeff Fortenberry
(NE-2) Lee Terry
(NJ-4) Christopher Smith
(NJ-5) Scott Garrett
(NJ-7) Mike Ferguson
(NY-13) Vito Fossella
NY-19) Sue Kelly
(NY-24) Sherwood Boehlert
(NY-29) John Randy Kuhl  
(PA-3) Phil English  
(TN-3) Zach Wamp
(TX-2) Ted Poe 
(TX-23) Henry Bonilla
(VA-10) Frank Wolf
(WI-8) Mark Green

Kent Conrad (ND) - Sponsor
26 SENATE Co-SPONSORS
S 1998 SENATE VERSION of Stolen Valor:
PASSED SENATE September 7

(AR) Mark Pryor
(AR) Blanche Lincoln
(CO) Ken Salazar 
(CT) Joseph Lieberman
(HI) Daniel Inouye
(NE) Benjamin Nelson  
(NJ) Frank Lautenberg  
(NM) Jeff Bingaman 
(NY) Hillary Clinton
(SD) Tim Johnson  
(WV) John Rockefeller  
(WV) Robert Byrd 

(AK) Ted Stevens
CO) Wayne Allard  
(GA) Johnny Isakson  
(GA) Saxby Chambliss 
(KS) Pat Roberts
(LA) David Vitter  
(MT) Conrad Burns  
(NC) Elizabeth Dole  
(NE) Chuck Hagel
(PA) Arlen Specter
(PA) Rick Santorum  
(SD) John Thune
(WY) Thomas Craig
(WY) Michael Enzi

ENDORSEMENTS

Other Medal of Honor and/or Veteran Related Legislation

H. Res. 297
National Medal of Honor Day

NEW G.I.
Bill of Rights

H. RES. 404
Honoring
Adm. Jim Stockdale

Doug or Pam Sterner may be contacted at: (703) 461-3626 or by Email:  Pam Sterner  -  Doug Sterner

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The P.O.W. Network

 

 

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