Dear Congressman Moore:
I am writing to urge that you co-sponsor the
Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2007 announced in the House of
Representatives last week by John Salazar.
Not only would it put teeth into the prosecution
of impostors under the Stolen Valor Act, it would also offer ordinary
citizens like me a way to easily verify (or find out about) awards
bestowed upon their loved ones who have been recognized for their
distinguished service in defense of our country.
I speak from first-hand experience. In October
2006 I began searching the internet for information regarding my
father's service record and awards. We believed that he had won the Navy
Cross during his time as a bomber pilot based on the USS Franklin, and
as such might be eligible to be memorialized in Arlington National
Cemetery. But since he died in 1985, donated his body to science (as did
my mother, who preceded him), and left little history and virtually no
documentation regarding his military career, we were left with nowhere
to turn and absolutely no knowledge of the military system, its records,
or its jargon.
I placed my first call to Arlington National
Cemetery in December 2006 and found that in spite of the records I had
been able to unearth through the internet and digging through family
files, nothing could move forward until the family could come up with
the actual citation for his Navy Cross. I continued to search.
In February 2007 I came across Doug Sterner's
website Home of Heroes. I sent him a synopsis of what I had discovered
so far and asked if he could help. He did. Through records he had been
compiling for years, he was able to verify that my father, Lieutenant
(j.g.) Victor LaVerne Miller had, in fact, won the Navy Cross by
contributing materially to the sinking of a Japanese aircraft carrier
during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Doug offered to speak to my contact at
Arlington National Cemetery. Through his generous intercession, after a
5-month process, ANC approved Dad's memorial and ordered the marker,
which was installed in April 2007.
Our service (full military honors including the
caisson, body bearers, firing party, bugler and military band) was held
July 11, 2007. It was attended by three generations of our family -- 34
people from 8 states -- which surprised the priest and the Arlington
Lady since he passed away over twenty years ago. My father's memorial is
now in Section MK site 72, giving the family a touchstone and point of
unity for the future.
But we still didn't have the actual certificate.
Now beginning to understand the jargon, I completed the SF180 and wrote
to the military records center in St. Louis in hopes of receiving the
DD214. When I received a reply in August 2007, they said they could not
verify that he actually saw active service. This was daunting, to say
the least, and I needed to take time off from the search. But someone in
St. Louis continued to work on my behalf, and on September 15, 2007, I
received his records and Navy Cross certificate -- nearly a year after I
began the search.
The process needs to be easier. Through the
establishment of the Military Valor Roll of Honor, it can be. These men
and women were (and are) our heroes at a time when heroes are badly
needed. And the government can't plead that creating a comprehensive
record of our heroes is too difficult, when a private individual like
Doug Sterner, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam, has been able to
put together enough information that people are now turning to him as an
The Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2007 is
worth your time and your support. If I can be of any help as you make
your decision, please don't hesitate to call upon me.