The Military Valor Roll of Honor Act (formerly HR 3769) died when the 110th Congress adjourned without moving the Bill forward. On January 22, 2009, Congressman John Salazar and 26 other members of the House introduced the same Bill in the Current (111th) Congress. The new Bill is HR 666 but the language is the same as the old Bill. This time we hope to see it successfully passed.

 

 


"I am deeply distressed to hear that there are some individuals who would stoop so low as to masquerade as recipients of medals that our nation awards to those who have served with valor in the military.  While I realize that creating a database of those who have received medals of valor would be a huge undertaking for DoD, something must be done to curb this abuse.  We must protect the legacy of America's heroes."
SEN. DANIEL AKAKA, D-Hawaii, Armed Services, Veterans Affairs Chairman

 

The Military Roll of Valor Act

When American Doughboys returned from their bitter but victorious battles to liberate France in World War I their commander General John J. Pershing noted, "Time shall not dim the glory of their deeds." Following the end of a second World War and while American soldiers continued their valiant service in Vietnam, in the 1960s General Pershing's words were inscribed at the entrance to a new football stadium in Philadelphia, birthplace of our nation. That stadium was officially named "Veterans Stadium" by the Philadelphia City Council to honor the memory of the veterans of all wars.

Four decades later the Philadelphia Eagles have moved on to newer facilities, Veterans Stadium stands empty, and the words of General Pershing are seldom read. Though time can not dim the glory of the deeds of those who have served to gain and preserve our freedom, time certainly has dimmed the remembrance of those deeds and the men and women who sacrificially made them. 

In 2001 Monty McDaniel watched the movie "Saving Private Ryan" sparking thoughts of his uncle, Staff Sergeant Paul Alexander, who was killed fighting during the Normandy Invasion. Seeking out his uncle's grave Online he noted the letters "DSC." Further research revealed those letters stood for "Distinguished Service Cross," the highest award presented by the U.S. Army and second only to the Medal of Honor. It was NEWS to Alexander's family, none of who knew of the young soldier's great heroism at the time he lost his life in battle. After persistent research that took nearly a year McDaniel at last found the citation for his uncle's award in the National Archives and the medal was presented posthumously--50 years late--to Alexander's surviving brothers and sisters. Paul Alexander's parents died in the 1990s never knowing their son was one of the 5,000 soldiers of World War II to receive this high honor.

A post-script to Alexander's story is that, upon receiving his uncle's General Order authorizing award of the DSC, McDaniel noted that the award had also been authorized for one other soldier who was killed at about the same time in France. He initiated a search for the surviving relatives of Staff Sergeant Lawrence Gunderson, found them, and learned the stories were almost identical. Gunderson's parents died never knowing of their son's high honor, which was finally awarded to surviving family members half-a-century late. When Senator Mark Dayton presented the award in 2002 the "Courier News" wrote, "They never received or knew that their son had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His family might never have known had it not been for a man from Indiana, Monty McDaniel." In both cases, the glory of the deeds of these brave warriors had not been diminished--only forgotten.

While such true heroes ARE forgotten by the nation they served while written records of their deeds are gathering dust in the basement of a forgotten Washington, D.C. archive, wannabe heroes capture the attention of others with self-promotional false claims of service, sacrifice, and heroics. Last month alone dozens of phony heroes emerged in press reports. In Topeka, Kansas, Tim Debusk was charged with using a forged citation to obtain distinctive Purple Heart license plates identifying him as a wounded warrior of the Global War on Terrorism. In Fort Worth, Texas, David McClanahan used false records showing he had received two Silver Stars, multiple Purple Hearts, and a bogus letter from the White House indicating he had been nominated for the Medal of Honor in order to obtain scholarships, bank loans, and speaking engagements. In Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the man at the forefront of a major state-wide bid for a $1 billion casino was exposed as a fraud who lied to a Congressional subcommittee about being a hero at the Battle of Khe Sanh--which occurred while he was still attending high school. That individual, Glenn Marshall, was also touted in press reports as the recipient of the Silver Star and five Purple Hearts. His exposure and subsequent investigation revealed the man was also hiding a 20-year old rape conviction.

On September 21, 2007, in Seattle, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced charges against eight men who falsified military records to award themselves medals and hero status, some of which then used that status to receive Veterans benefits. Their fraud, based upon forged discharge paperwork and award citations, cost the U.S. Government $1.4 million dollars. Among the eight was one man, a resident alien, whose records showed he served and was wounded in World War II while a member of the famed "Flying Tigers." In fact the man had never even served in any branch of military service.

The fraud perpetrated by these and scores of others recently exposed and publicized in media reports is possible because of failures in steps to properly preserve the history of the deeds of our Nation's TRUE warriors. Twenty-first century technology and the ability to manufacture deeds of glory has given us more heroes than has combat, while that same technology has been largely ignored as the tool to properly document the history that is real. In September 2007 when it was revealed that as many as one in three records in the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project involved claims to awards never earned, the library's director of communications Mr. Matt Raymond told MSNBC it "would be impossible" to check proffered oral histories for the legitimacy of claimed awards. No existing database has ever been assimilated to record the deeds of those who have served so valiantly through America's wars. The records do exist, in archived General Orders at NARA, on cards in the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and at Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. These documents preserve in fading ink and on yellowing paper the "glory of the deeds" of true heroes, men and women whose valor and sacrifice should never be allowed to deteriorate on aging media or become lost in piles of unarchived papers, to thereby become lost in history.
President John F. Kennedy noted one month before his death in 1963, "A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers." 

Let us as a nation reveal ourselves as a people that honors and remembers those who have given their best to preserve our freedom, not just the generals and icons, but the ordinary men who left everyday jobs to serve in defense of freedom and, by their uncommon valor not only secured our freedom, but recorded a legacy of valor to inspire generations in the future.


As webmaster for HomeOfHeroes.com, my initial purpose when I launched this site in 1998 was to highlight the stories of Medal of Honor recipients, a group of heroes who comprise fewer than 4,500 of the more than 40 million Americans who have served in uniform. In time, after requests to expand, I undertook the daunting task of finding, typing and making available citations for the awards second-only to the Medal of Honor: The Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross. When I began that in 2001 I believed it was an impossible dream and, 7 years later have surprised myself with the fact that I have digitized and posted the citations for more than 18,000 of the 24,00 awards (and hope to complete this in 2008). At times I became myself discouraged but, in those moments I received emails such as the following simple, but brief exchange from a former Marine in Boston, Massachusetts:

calhoun.jpg (72258 bytes)"Your web site helped us get this done." 
What Ed Driscoll had done was to bring to the attention of his community that the headstone at the grave of a fellow Marine and personal friend made no mention of the fact that in the moment of valor that cost him his life, John C. Calhoun had been awarded the Navy's highest military honor, the Navy Cross. The forgotten hero was remembered with new reverence on Veterans' Day 2005, and his headstone engraved with the text "Navy Cross" to identify a forgotten hometown hero.

 

The successful passage in 2006 of the Stolen Valor Act was a long-need step in protecting the integrity of our military awards, prohibiting and providing penalties for impersonating a decorated hero. That problem is severe and the Stolen Valor Act has already proven to be a highly effective tool to uncover fraud and phonies, but FAR WORSE is the fact that the REAL HEROES, men and women who REALLY DID EARN high awards like the Silver Star or highly-respected awards like the Purple Heart, have been forgotten.

Try to find out what medals your grandfather earned in World War II, or even to get the citation that describes the heroic action that earned your father a Silver Star in Korea or Vietnam, and you will understand rather quickly how poorly has been preserved the records of our REAL heroes. Send a letter to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis to get a copy of your uncle's awards and citations for service in the Army or Air Force in World War II or Korea and you will most likely get a letter in return that "His records are not here, they may have burned in the 1973 fire."

Over the last five years I have been able, through my own database, to help hundreds of families get those citations, thanks to the time and effort I have put into building my own awards database. (It would NOT have been humanly possible to do so without the great prior work done by other independent historians like the late Colonel Albert Gleim who started much of this and passed away before completing what others considered impossible to do.) Like Colonel Gleim, I am one person (who is not getting any younger), and know that I too, will live out my own life before I can do all that needs to be done. FURTHERMORE, it should NOT be the job of dedicated, independent historians, to insure that the history of our heroes is properly preserved.

The LEAST our Nation owes to those who have served is to properly preserve for history, and for their children and grandchildren, an accurate history of that veteran's service, sacrifice and heroism.

In 2007 Congressman John Salazar, who successfully fought to enact the Stolen Valor Act returned with the logical follow-up legislation. He was joined in this by Congressman Patrick Murphy (PA), the ONLY Iraqi War Veteran currently serving in Congress. Their new BILL is titled:

The Military Roll of Valor Act

111TH CONGRESS
1
ST SESSION

H. R. 666

To amend title 10, United States Code, to require the establishment of a searchable database containing the names and citations of members of the Armed Forces, members of the United States merchant marine, and civilians affiliated with the Armed Forces who have been awarded the medal of honor or any other medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces, the United States merchant marine, or affiliated civilians.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. SALAZAR introduced the following bill;
     Which was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services

A BILL
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    
This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2007’’.

SEC. 2. MILITARY VALOR ROLL OF HONOR.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT.—Chapter 57 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
§ 1135. Military Valor Roll of Honor

‘‘(a) ESTABLISHMENT REQUIRED.—The Secretary of Defense shall establish and maintain a database, to be known as the ‘Military Valor Roll of Honor’, which shall contain the names and citations of all members of the armed forces, members of the United States merchant marine (including the Army Transport Service and the Naval Transport Service), and civilians affiliated with the armed forces who have been awarded the medal of honor or any other medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces, the United States merchant marine, or affiliated civilians. The Military Valor Roll of Honor shall include the names of those members recorded on the ‘Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard Medal of Honor Roll’ maintained pursuant to section 1560 of title 38.’’

‘‘(b) SOURCES OF INFORMATION.—The Secretary of Defense shall develop the Military Valor Roll of Honor using the records of the military departments and such other sources of information as the Secretary considers to be appropriate and accurate. The Secretary of Homeland Security, with respect to the Coast Guard, and the Secretary of Transportation, with respect to the United States merchant marine, shall provide the Secretary of Defense with information regarding the names and citations of members of the Coast Guard and United States merchant marine for inclusion in the Military Valor Roll of Honor.’’

‘‘(c) PUBLIC AVAILABILITY.—The Military Valor Roll of Honor shall be a searchable database and available for public inspection.’’.

(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
‘‘1135. Military Valor Roll of Honor.’’.

CURRENT STATUS:

  • HR 666 has been referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel (Chaired by Representative Susan Davis of California), of the House Committee on Armed Services (Chaired by Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri.)
  • As of April 21, 2009, the Bill is Co-Sponsored by 47 Members of Congress including:
    • 36 Democrats and 11 Republicans
    •   11 of the 62 Members of the Armed Services Committee
    •   5 of the 15 Members of the Military Personnel Sub-Committee

CLICK HERE 
TO SEE A LIST OF CO-SPONSORS

 

 

Roll of Valor Main Page
Current Co-Sponsors
  |  Targeted Co-Sponsors

Scope of the ProjectThe Purple Heart 
How YOU can Help
  |  FEEDBACK On This ISSUE


There are MANY good REASONS for Congress to Pass the Roll of Valor Act. Below are links to FOUR that quickly validate the need for a National Database of Military Awards.

Real Heroes Found

Phony Heroes Exposed

V.A. Fraud Dollars Recovered

Accuracy in Media Stories

The Problems With:

DD-214s

FOIA

News Stories on the Roll of Valor Act

 

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