Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 4, 2016
RESTORING VALOR: ONE COUPLE'S MISSION TO EXPOSE FRAUDULENT WAR HEROES AND PROTECT AMERICA'S MILITARY AWARDS SYSTEM
DOUG AND PAM STERNER WITH MICHAEL MINK
SKYHORSE PUBLISHING, 2014
HARDCOVER, $24.95, 273 PAGES, REFERENCES, RESOURCES, APPENDICES, INDEX
Both military service and decorations have taken on a special meaning since the tragic events of 11 September 2001, This is seen in the outpouring of support and gratitude for anyone serving in the U.S. military. Some will say it is more in response to the guilt felt by many Americans over the bad treatment accorded the Vietnam War and Era-Veterans upon the completion of their active duty and their subsequent return to civilian life. But with this new found recognition, fraudulent veterans have now started to appear (this isn't the first time this has happened in our history) has taken on a more serious nature in the last few years. While a number of well intentioned individuals have taken on this mission of exposing these individuals; there have been a number of others who I refer to as "veteran vigilantes" who have slandered and/or defamed real military veterans. They are ignorant in regard to U.S. history, the way the different services work, and our own military awards system. This new book entitled RESTORING HONOR: ONE COUPLE'S MISSION TO EXPOSE FRAUDULENT WAR HEROES AND PROTECT AMERICA'S MILITARY AWARDS SYSTEM is just such a book. Written after B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley's 1998 self-published Stolen Valor, it contains a number of errors and much needed clarifications. They are listed below:
*Page xiii-Stolen Valor was published in 1998. I was able to obtain a review copy of this book and after reading it, there were numerous errors that I mentioned to B.G. Burkett by telephone. I also mentioned to him his opinions on Agent Orange exposure and PTSD that he writes about in the book also.
*Pages 3 and 4-Due to Britain's ban on U.S. trade to the British West Indies, the newly independent states (former colonies) experimenting with different varieties of paper money, and the Article of Confederation Congress failing to raise adequate revenue caused the Depressions of 1784 and 1785 in the U.S. When the Massachusetts Supreme Court disallowed the suspension of debt collections and the state legislature refused to grant relief for the high property taxes, Shay's Rebellion broke out. There were similar incidents in North Carolina and Maryland. Soldiers not receiving their pay wasn't the reason for Shay's Rebellion. On 20 July 1776, Jacques Antoine de Franchessim was awarded the first U.S. brevet promotion with a further thirty-five brevet promotions being awarded to men of foreign birth while ten received Continental Army swords for heroism and valor. But by 1784, Washington had awarded a further 50 officers brevet promotions for meritorious service in the American Revolution. Actually, the first U.S. military award was awarded to Washington by the Continental Congress in March, 1776 for driving the British out of Boston. It wasn't a decoration worn on the uniform but it was a large gold disc without a suspension ribbon. Further, the Continental Congress awarded silver medals to the following officers-Washington, Gates, Wayne, Stewart, Lee, Morgan, and Howard. Teissedre de Fleury was also voted a silver medal but he was sent a gold medal by Benjamin Franklin. Lasseray states the Continental Congress had directed Franklin to have this silver medal made in France. Did the alchemy of Congressional conscience over the delay turn silver into gold or is Lasseray's information wrong as to the color of the metal? The later seems unlikely, since he cites Franklin's letter of 15 August 1783 forwarding a medal made by Benjamin Duvivier.Today, these are awarded to civilians for non-military achievements. The Book of Merit has never been located. On 3 November 1780, the Continental Congress created the first American award specifically to be worn on a chain around the neck as a military decoration. New York State militiamen John Paulding, Isaac van Wert, and David Williams were each awarded $200.00 and a special silver medal for capturing Major John Andre. This medal, the Andre Medal (also called the Fidelity Medallion), was a special rather than a standing award. Its one of the earliest cases of a military decoration being awarded to enlisted men. The Society of Cincinnati had a badge which was a bold eagle suspended from a two-inch wide dark blue ribbon, edged in white to symbolize the alliance with France. This badge was the only "foreign decoration" French officers were allowed to wear at the court of Louis XVI. Brevet promotions were never conferred by the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812. During the first half of the 19th Century, brevet promotions were conferred upon officers for 10 years of faithful service at the next higher rank if no regular vacancies were available. Starting in 1815, many new graduates of the U.S. Military Academy were commissioned as brevet second lieutenants until a second lieutenant's commission came open in their assigned regiments. More significantly, however, brevet promotions were conferred upon officers for gallantry in the presence of the enemy or for other distinguished service. It was a high mark of distinction and honor in the small pre-War Between The States U.S. Army and even in the smaller U.S. Marine Corps, where most officers knew each other well. Brevet rank is a form of temporary promotion adopted from the British Army system and it was higher than an officer's regular grade. It was introduced into the U.S. Army in 1812 as a reward for "gallant conduct" or "meritorious service". Junior officers coveted brevets because it increased their reputation and sometimes allowed them to outrank their regular-grade superiors. In fact, this often created friction in the officer corps and shouting matches on the battlefield. Because of a smoldering conflict between two of General Zachary Taylor's commanders, Colonel David E. Twiggs and Brevet-Brigadier General William J. Worth, President James K. Polk intervened to rule that brevet rank was inferior to regular rank. Knowing how slow the regular process of promotion could be, generals used brevets as a way of recognizing promising officers and giving them more responsibility. Brevets could also be deadly-officers competed for brevets, which often led to daring and sometimes reckless exposure on the battlefield. Brevet rank didn't bring higher pay or benefits, and, after the war, brevet officers returned to their regular rank. Brevet commissions in the U.S. Marine Corps date from the Act of Congress dated 16 April 1814. Prior to the War of 1812, the U.S. Congress had no occasion to bestow congressional honors on U.S. Army officers. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to two naval officers between 1783 and 1812-Captain Thomas Truxton and Commodore Edward Preble and two U.S. Navy officers received the Congressional Sword during the same time period-Lt. Andrew Sterrett and Captain Stephen Decatur. Decatur would later receive a Congressional Gold Medal in 1813 for actions during the War of 1812. The same congressional resolutions that approved the swords for Sterrett and Decatur granted Sterrett's crew an additional one month's pay and two month's pay for Decatur's crew. Only officers and normally only the most senior officers received congressional recognition. The brevet promotion was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and was used for the advancement in rank without an accompanying advancement in pay. Only two U.S. Army officers between 1783 and 1812 received brevet promotions: Josiah Harmar to brevet brigadier general on 31 July 1787 and John Brooks to brevet brigadier general on 11 April 1792. Only one U.S. Army officer during the above mentioned period received a brevet promotion for combat action, but that was a long overdue recognition from the American Revolution. When William McPhierson finally received his promotion to brevet major on 16 September 1799, he was already a substantive brigadier general. The first brevet promotions for combat heroism since the American Revolution were conferred on 9 August 1812, when Daniel Baker, Charles Larabe, and Josiah Snelling were promoted to brevet major and James Miller was promoted to brevet colonel, all for the Battle of Brownstown (Maguaga). Of the 3,396 Regular U.S. Army officers and an estimated 31,210 U.S. Volunteer officers who served during the War of 1812, 108 were awarded brevet promotions for gallantry in action. Another 14 officers received brevet promotions for meritorious or distinguished service during the war while another 16 officers received two brevet promotions for valorous conduct. A further four received a brevet each for heroism and meritorious service while three U.S. Army officers received brevet promotions to brigadier general which included one American Revolutionary War veteran. Four officers received brevets to major general as well as a Congressional Gold Medal while another four U.S. Army officers received a brevet promotion for both phases of the Battle of Fort Erie. Six U.S. Marine Corps officers received brevet promotions for their service in the War of 1812-one of these being Archibald Henderson. No U.S. Marine officers received brevet promotions before the War of 1812. During the War of 1812, there were three highest forms of recognition-the Thanks of Congress, the Congressional Sword, and the Congressional Gold Medal. All three expressed through a Congressional Resolution. The Congressional Gold Medal is sometimes confused with and/or mistakenly equated to the Medal of Honor. There were 27 Congressional Gold Medals awarded during the War of 1812. Of the eleven U.S. Army officers who were awarded it, six also received the Thanks of Congress. of those six, two were the first U.S. Volunteer and Militia officers respectively to receive Congressional honors. Also, sixteen U.S. Navy officers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during the War of 1812. Silver medals were awarded to the subordinates of naval ship commanders or squadron commanders who had been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. We were the first nation to confer military awards on common soldiers. There was no formal mechanism to recognize the service or combat heroism of enlisted soldiers until the U.S. Army established the Certificate of Merit on 3 March 1847. Even though the first campaign medals were established in the early 20th Century for both The War Between The States and Indian Wars, the membership badges of various veterans' organizations throughout the 19th Century served as unofficial campaign medals and were authorized for wear on U.S. Army uniforms up through 1905. The brevet promotions were placed in the officer's permanent file with a certificate being issued. The brevet promotions during the American Revolution were the primary means through which the large numbers of foreign volunteer officers were brought into the Continental Army. On 30 September 1783, the Congress conferred a "general brevet", advancing by one rank all officers below the rank of major general. At least 55 of those officers continued to serve in the U.S. Army for some period prior to the War of 1812. Brevet promotions were also conferred on certain officers assigned to positions of authority above the level of their actual ranks if they otherwise weren't administratively qualified for a substantive promotion. On 10 July 1812, seven U.S. Army officers received brevet promotions in ranks ranging from major to brigadier general to fill key positions in the rapidly expanding U.S. Army. On 16 April 1818, Congress passed an act requiring that all brevet promotions be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The regulations regarding brevet promotions were so vague that controversies arose throughout the early wars of America's existence. An Article of War of 1806 prescribed that although brevet rank had no real significance while an officer continued to serve within his own unit or "corps" ("corps" meant at that time infantry, artillery, engineers, etc.); it did have the real recognition when he served "in courts-martial and on detachments, when composed of different corps". It could also be claimed when he served with provisional formations made up of different regiments or companies, or "on other occasions". It wasn't until 1869 that the Article of War of 1806 was repealed. An Act of 3 March 1863 authorized the award of the brevet rank to officers of the U.S. Volunteers. Approximately 1,700 officers were breveted Major General or Brigadier General of the Regular Army or U.S. Volunteers. This type of abuse would lead to the abandonment of the brevet system in the U.S. Army. On 15 July 1870, Congress passed legislation prohibiting officers from wearing their higher rank or serving in higher positions equal to the brevet rank except in special circumstances. From that point on, brevet promotions were little more than symbolic recognitions.
*Page 5-The first medals to be issued to American military personnel on a large scale were state-issued medals for volunteer service. The Certificate of Merit is unique among U.S. decorations in that it is the only American decoration to have "No." and "MNo." serial numbers. The certificate of Merit was only awarded to enlisted personnel and not officers. All other decorations that have serial numbers have un-prefixed serial numbers. The last awarded Certificate of Merit was awarded to Paul Scalleta with "No. 357." Certificates issued for the Mexican-American War were engraved by J.V.N. Throop of Washington D.C. and measured 9 3/4 inches by 15 3/4 inches. In the years following the Mexican-American War, commanders continued to recommend soldiers for the Certificate of Merit. However, the War Department continued to turn down these recommendations because it interpreted the Act of 3 March 1847 to restrict the award to the Mexican-American War period. There were 539 Certificates of Merit awarded during the Mexican-American War according to the Aztec Club. The Certificate of Merit was discontinued after the Mexican-American War but re-introduced in 1876 after the Battle of Little Big Horn. In 1905, the Certificate of Merit was granted medal status and became the Certificate of Merit Medal until it was declared obsolete on 19 July 1918 and renamed the Distinguished Service Medal. The Certificate of Merit Medal was designed by Frank Millet who perished on the RMS Titanic. He is also credited with designing the U.S. Army's Spanish Campaign Medal as well as the Philippine Campaign Medal. The Civil War is officially referred to as The War Between The States. The following Union medals were authorized during that conflict: the Butler Medal (also known as the Colored Troops Medal), Army of the James Medal, the XVII Corps Medal, the Gillmore Medal (also known as the Fort Sumter 1863 Medal) It was replaced in 1905 with the creation of the Civil War Campaign Medal with the following dates-15 April 1861 to 9 April 1865 and 15 April 1861 to 20 August 1866 for Texas, the Kearny Medal for officers, the Kearny Cross for enlisted men (this is regarded as one of the oldest military decorations of the U.S. Army; second only to the Badge of Military Merit and the Fidelity Medallion), the Ely Medal for the Battle of Marye's Heights on 3 May 1863, the 1861 Fort Sumter Medal (this was awarded in four classes and issued to the officers and enlisted men who defended Fort Sumter. The Chamber of Commerce of New York approved it), and the Fort Pickens Medal which was also awarded in four classes and issued to the officers and enlisted men who defended Fort Pickens. Also approved by the New York Chamber of Commerce. The following Confederate medals were authorized during the conflict: The Texas Gold Star, the New Market Cross of Honor, the Davis Guard Medal (also called the Sabine Pass Medal and President Jefferson Davis was awarded this medal), the Taylor, Anderson, and Todd Star Badge, the Stonewall Jackson Medal, the Immortal 600 Medal, the General Nathan Evans Medal, the President's Guard Medal, and the Confederate Roll of Honor (passed by the Confederate Congress in October, 1862 and published after each battle). The authors fail to mention anything about the Confederate medals and veterans. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) had their equivalent of the GAR Medal which was the Confederate Southern Cross and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans (SCV) has the Confederate Medal of Honor. As a footnote, one must remember that the British troops that served under the Duke of Wellington of Waterloo were awarded The Waterloo Medal (1816) but not any of the soldiers who served under his command in Portugal during the Peninsular War (1808-1814) until 1847. This medal was the Military General Service Medal.
*Page 8-There are only two "Greatest Generations" in U.S. history and they are the ones who founded this country and the ones who fought to keep it free in the War of 1812.
*Page 9-No mention made of the fact that Audie Murphy championed help for those veterans suffering from PTSD of which he himself suffered due to his experiences in World War II.
*Page 10-There were two flag raisings on Iwo Jima. Bradley participated in the second flag raising which gets the most publicity.
*Page 13-The authors of Stolen Valor, B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley were unable to find a publisher due to the fact that these same publishers would be spending money fending off slander and/or libel lawsuits which could drive them out of business. In this day and age of computers, anything can be done with photographs. I received a review copy when it was first published and it isn't voluminous or a heavily researched treatise. The question that should be asked is why Burkett and Whitley haven't come out with an updated version of this book with corrections.
*Page 14-Smedley Butler was nominated for a third Medal of Honor.
*Page 20-While many Americans and military veterans think that armor fights only armor; they tend to forget the Germans successful use of the famous 8.8 Flak Gun against Allied armor.
*Page 21-Individuals from any branch of the U.S. Army may attend both the Basic Airborne School and the Ranger School if they qualify. Once the individual soldier completes the formal school, they then continue on with their U.S. Army career. As an example, the two first female graduates of the Ranger School came from their respective branches and once they graduated, they went back to their branches.
*Page 22-Army service ribbon should be written as Army Service Ribbon. Anyone that has been in the U.S. military knows that to use the DD-214s as the sole source to verify service and other information is foolish. The U.S. Army has stated that they are missing thousands of records from both of their conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the U.S. Marine Corps is going through thousands of record books from the Vietnam War-era due to information being left out of record books. This missing information from the individual service member's personal file can be related and not just restricted to decorations, education, and combat operations.
*Page 26-The book Stolen Valor being classified as a scholastic journal is someone's idea of a joke. There's nothing scholarly about it. Double-negative equals a positive isn't used in English but in Math.
*Page 67-STABO was developed at MACV RECONDO School in South Vietnam on 1 October 1968 by three U.S. Army Special Forces operators. It was supplied by the Counterinsurgency Support Office.
*Page 70-See USAF Personnel Rotation In Southeast Asia (A Chronology) 1961 through 1971 Air Force Historical Research Agency September, 2013.
*Page 77-The Chosin Reservoir Campaign was from November-December, 1950 not 1951.
*Page 83-corps should be written as Corps.
*Page 87-Medal of Honor recipient Thomas J. Hudner, Jr. isn't a fighter pilot but a naval aviator. His wingman and the one he attempted to rescue was the U.S. Navy's first black naval aviator and recipient of the DFC, Ensign Jesse L. Brown. Hudner attempted to recover Brown's remains in July, 2013 but North Korea requested him to come back in September when the weather was more predictable.
*Page 89-Paratroopers should be written as paratroopers.
*Page 94-Medal of Honor recipient James L. Day was awarded six Purple Hearts. The highest number of Purple Hearts, ten, were awarded to Raymond A. Tirva of the U.S. Army Special Forces. U.S. Marine Corps boot camp was cut to 8 weeks during the Vietnam War due to the increasing number of replacements needed during the Vietnam War. Previous U.S. wars did see enlistment by 17 year olds which also included the Vietnam War.
*Page 99-Congressional Medal of Honor should be written as Medal of Honor.
*Page 100-The late President Gerald Ford was a member of the America First Committee while attending Yale Law School.
*Page 101-The authors never mention that it was the "Greatest Generation" who failed to help veterans who had served during the Vietnam War to get the benefits they deserved to make the adjustment to civilian life.
*Page 109-The late and former U.S. Attorney General of the U.S., John Mitchell was the late President Kennedy's commanding officer in the Pacific.
*Page 141-Wane should read WANE-TV.
*Page 144-Professor Colin Heaton is the author of German Anti-Partisan Warfare In Europe, 1939-1945 published by Schiffer Publishing Company.
*Page 163-Soldiers aren't U.S. Marines.
*Page 178-The laws of libel are very hard to prove and therefore there is no opportunity for individuals to defend themselves when they are accused.
As a further note, Henry Pierson Crowe talked Major General Julian C. Smith out of recommending him for the Medal of Honor after the Battle of Tarawa. Crowe was awarded the Navy Cross instead. The U.S. Army's Solder's Medal was awarded in Vietnam not listed in Army General Orders but MACV Orders. Also, every field and general hospital in Vietnam kept an ample supply of Purple Hearts on hand to be awarded as needed.
Robert A. Lynn