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Online hawking of military medals shocks veterans

By JAMES FURBUSH
The Patriot Ledger

Tommy Ruggiero earned his two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts as a member of the Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion fighting in several World War II battles, including D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

To Ruggiero, 84, and other veterans, the Purple Heart is an honor that is hard won, not bought or sold - at least until recently.

The Internet has made obtaining military medals, such as Purple Hearts, as simple as buying household items or CDs. As of yesterday, 60 Purple Hearts were available for sale on eBay. One such seller on eBay said the Purple Heart ‘‘would make a great addition to anyone's WWII memorabilia collection.'' The seller even included the name of the soldier who was awarded the medal.

Besides a Purple Heart, people can buy any medal including a Bronze Star, Silver Star or even a Distinguished Service Cross, from any online auction web site, for as little as $10.

For serious collectors of wartime memorabilia, such pieces might be a find, but veterans are appalled that anyone would lie about having won a war medal to make themselves look good - the scenario in the movie ‘‘Wedding Crashers'' where two bachelors wear Purple Hearts to impress women.

‘‘It's just a shame,'' said Ruggiero, a Plymouth resident. ‘‘Guys like myself or anyone who earns one, it belittles them and it degrades the medals.''

Stephen Dunlea, 45, of Quincy, an Army veteran, said he cannot fathom how people get away with wearing unearned medals.

‘‘There is no price on those medals, except the price of freedom,'' Dunlea said. ‘‘Soldiers died or saved soldiers from dying to earn those medals.''

If the medals are not handed down to family members, Dunlea said, then they should be donated to a military museum or veterans organizations.

‘‘I think if anybody has a Purple Heart it should be because it was awarded to them not because it was bought,'' said Steve MacDonald of Rockland, a Vietnam War Marine Corps veteran.

The only military medal where it is a crime to resell, wear, or manufacture is the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., submitted legislation last week to make it a crime for someone to falsely claim to have earned any of the nation's top military medals.

Salazar also persuaded the ‘‘Wedding Crashers'' movie Web site to drop its promotion for visitors to print out a Purple Heart certificate as a way to pick up women.

‘‘It's a horrible thing to wear any medal without citation,'' said Wayne Gauchier, 64, of Quincy, a Vietnam War Marine Corps veteran. ‘‘There should be a fine. It isn't right. Maybe not prison time, but there should be justice.''

F. Edward Nicolas of Plymouth, who was wounded in combat for the Navy during World War II, said the government should ‘‘restrict the sale'' of the medals.

Ruggiero said people who buy the medals to make themselves look good, may find their plan backfiring. Affidavits on military discharges note the combat decorations that soldiers have won.

‘‘They're only hurting themselves because someone will find out,'' Ruggiero said.

James Furbush may be reached at jfurbush@ledger.com.

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Monday, August 01, 2005

 

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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"

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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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