"Clearly a hearing is the least we could do to get a sense of the scope of the problem and then also a chance to have some people who have concerns have an opportunity to voice those concerns. You want to just make sure that as the details of the database are put together that privacy concerns are accommodated. If you're a ready, fire, aim kind of guy, you want to go straight to legislation. But if you're a ready, aim, fire kind of guy, a hearing would be the right approach. I would rather have a hearing first."
REP. MIKE CONAWAY, R-Texas, Armed Services

If we can get Congressman  Conway to Co-Sign HR 666 now that the Bill has been Introduced
We'll be well on our way towards getting that hearing!

If It's Worth Doing....

....It's Worth Doing RIGHT!!

I could NOT AGREE MORE with Congressman Conaway. While I would love to see the Roll of Valor bill move swiftly through Congress to successful passage, it would be much like putting a Band-Aid on a severed leg. The problem of properly recording and preserving military records is extensive, and Congress needs to be aware of the full scope of the problem and consider a broad range of solutions. It is the LEAST we owe those who have placed their lives on the line, and often given their lives, in answer to the call of duty.

Passage of the Roll of Valor Act would address numerous issues related to military awards, but would miss the target for those veterans who have served honorably but NOT received special recognitions and awards. These veterans are no less deserving of proper preservation of the records of their service.

The Roll of Valor Act raises several questions that need to be answered both FOR and BY Congress:

1)  What steps must be taken to insure individual rights to privacy?
2)  Is the COST worth the Benefit?
3)   Is it even POSSIBLE to generate such a database?
4)  WHERE will the Records for this database be found?

I have prepared the below as a brief snapshot of the SCOPE of this project. You can download this same information as a WORD document HERE. For a larger, 36-page treatise on how this this project can be accomplished, you can download the "Working Paper" I did on the subject long before the Bill was introduced, as a WORD Document--Military Roll of Valor: Working Paper

SCOPE OF THE PROJECT

Privacy of Individuals
The records to be transcribed and entered into this National Database are previously published Army and Air Force General Orders and Navy Serial Letters containing the text of citations for military awards. At time of print publication distribution of these included the individual recipients or their next of kin, pertinent military commands, and frequently local news media, as well as others. The citations were often verbally read in public ceremonies involving presentation of the awards, posted in unit orderly rooms, and are now publicly assessable from the National Archives or Navy Yard by FOIA.

History and Precedent
While digitizing these records and making them readily available to the public would be historic, simply due the sheer size and scope of the project, it would NOT be unprecedented. In the mid-1920s, following World War I, the War Department compiled and published the names of recipients and citations for the awards of ALL U.S. Medals from the Civil War to the date of publication. The book was available publicly and was popular among both listed veterans and their family members. Following publication through 1942, five supplements were printed to maintain a record of additional awards granted belatedly or earned subsequently to World War I. That compendium, now a rare book that sells for $150 or more, is still occasionally available if one knows that it exists to reveal the heroism of a great-grandfather or great-grandmother during World War I. Most Americans however are unaware of it and don't know how to obtain a copy.

No such complete compendium was compiled during or after World War II or subsequent combat actions, although especially during WWII, the names and synopsis of the deeds reflected in General Orders or Navy citations were published in periodicals like Life magazine and All Hands magazine, often with a photo of the recipient.

Availability of these Records
Copies of these original General Orders (for Army and Air Force Awards) remain in storage at the National Archives and the G.O.s are filed by command, number, and date. Each G.O. usually contains the names and citations of a dozen or more recipients, but there exists no index to enable a search by name. For this reason a family member or researcher is required to request a citation by those criteria, which is usually unknown to them, or to pay a researcher $50 or more an hour to sort through tens of thousands of pages. Even when this information is known and records requested under an FOIA, the process can take up to a year or more before the individual receives the requested General Orders. Awards to members of the Navy and Marine Corps are preserved on nearly half-a-million index cards housed at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., where access to the general public is extremely limited. FOIA requests are often ignored or sent to NPRC St. Louis where satisfactory resolution is dubious.

Completeness of these Records
Enumeration of military awards is obtained from the Human Resource Commands of the various branches of service. These do NOT maintain the published copies of the General Orders or names of recipients, only a tally by award of recipients which is often incomplete. The U.S. Army's Military Awards Branch, for instance, reports a total of 846 awards of the Distinguished Service Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor) during the Vietnam War. Private researchers have however, with General Orders obtained from NARA, documented the awarding of 1,058 DSCs during the Vietnam War, meaning that the U.S. Army has "lost to history" the names and deeds of 212 individuals who received the Army's highest award for military valor during the Vietnam War alone.

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis houses the individual records of America's servicemen and women. Upon discharge NPRC becomes the repository of all personal records, which can subsequently be obtained by FOIA. During time of war or conflict, recommendation for awards are often delayed beyond the release date of the veteran, and when an award is issued under General Orders after discharge, a copy is USUALLY forwarded to NPRC for placement in the file. In one recent instance however, a private research found after submitting 50 FOIA requests on individuals for whom he had obtained NARA General Orders authorizing award of the Distinguished Service Cross, in SIX cases the personal records at NARA did not reflect that award. SIX of 50 heroes awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in Vietnam had no historical evidence of that award at NPRC.

The only complete accounting therefore of the names and deeds of these, and other "lost heroes" is in the published but un-indexed papers filed in scores of boxes at the National Archives. These paper orders, many of which are the last remaining copies of these historical accounts of service, sacrifice, and heroism, are degrading rapidly. There is an urgent need to preserve these records in digital format before they are completely lost to history.

Scope of this Project
Upon being appraised of the prevalence of individuals claiming unearned military awards and the call for a National Database, Senator Daniel Akaka (D/HI) said: "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."

Digitizing the names and citations for all military awards would indeed be a "huge undertaking" but not an impossible one. In Colorado one private researcher has, by himself and with virtually no funding, digitized the names and citations for nearly all recipients of the top three levels of awards, numbering some 35,000 medals (Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Army Distinguished Service Medal, and Navy Distinguished Service Medal) over the last five years. He has further compiled the names and General Orders numbers for more than 80,000 of an estimated total 120,000 recipients of the Silver Star (including the full-text citations for more than 5,000 of these.) While widely used by both military sources and even the F.B.I., his database is an unofficial one. While it serves a noble purpose to veterans and to family members seeking to recover the history of a loved-one who has served, perhaps the best purpose it serves is to illustrate that a complete Valor Roll of Honor is possible to develop when undertaken by a team of data-entry personnel and properly funded.


The Army's Military Awards Branch reports enumeration of military awards as follows (includes ALL wars):


As demonstrated above, the top level of awards (Silver Star to Medal of Honor) has been proven to be digitized by one man alone. Of the 4.5 million awards reflected, more than 4 million are awards of the Bronze Star for Achievement or Service, Air Medal for Achievement or Service, or Army Commendation Medal for Achievement or service. These three awards comprise the vast majority of records to be digitized, yet are the easiest in terms of time and cost. These three awards are granted under a template citation in which the only variables are usually the name of the recipient and the date(s) for which it was awarded. Digitizing these 4.5 million awards would cover all Army and Army Air Force Awards in history, save for Purple Hearts awarded. Navy awards number some 350,000 cards archived at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and an estimated 150,000 citations in bound notebooks at Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico.

Medal of Honor

1741

Certificate of Merit

1206

Badge of Military Merit

3

DSC

12,433

DSM

1,443

Silver Star

105,466

Legion of Merit

30,939

DFC

148,160

SM

18,515

BSM "V"

171,763

BSM (A/S)

1,003,254

AM "V"

32,520

AM (AS)

2,180,495

ARCOM "V"

77,302

ARCOM (A/S)

847,865

Total

 4,633,105

 


Conspicuously absent from the above is the Purple Heart, awarded for wounds received in battle or the loss of one's life in Battle. Authorized by Congress in 1932, awards of the Purple Heart number less than 1.5 million awards based upon the following casualty statistics for all branches of service combined.

War

Served

Battle Deaths

Wounded

Other Deaths

World War II

16,112,566

291,557

671,846

113,842

Korean War

5,720,000

33,686

103,284

20,560

Vietnam War

9,200,000

47,410

153,303

42,788

Gulf War

2,322,332

148

467

1,194

GWOT

?

4,000

40,000

?

 

 

376,801

968,900

 

 

 

1,345,701 Purple Hearts

 

 

 

Roll of Valor Main Page
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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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