"Sen. Hutchison believes that nothing is more important
than honoring the sacrifices that our military service members
make everyday to preserve the rights and freedoms of all
American citizens. Senator Hutchison feels that we owe it to our
veterans to ensure the accuracy of these awards and citations
earned in great service to our great nation."
Spokesperson for SEN.
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, R-Texas
hope Senator Hutchinson will soon Co-Sign S. 2610
THE PURPLE HEART
ORDER OF THE PURPLE HEART
Springfield, VA 22151
For information contact:
Nat'l Public Relations Director Ray Funderburk
(662) 772-5811 Mobile (901) 326-5611
October 5, 2007
Springfield, VA--"It is a
National shame that a private citizen in Colorado maintains
better records of American heroes than their own
Government," said Henry Cook, National Commander of the
Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). "Even the
Department of Defense has to go to Doug Sterner in Colorado
to verify some awards presented to combat heroes."
Sterner has created a data base with
digitized names and citations for some 35,000 of the top
three levels of awards (Medal of Honor, Distinguished
Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Army
Distinguished Service medal and Navy Distinguished Service
medal). All of this by himself and without outside funding.
He has further compiled the names and
General Orders numbers for more than 80,000 of an estimated
120,000 recipients of the Silver Star.
Sterner's data base is widely used by
all branches of the military as well as the FBI. If a person
appears to be phony in their claim of holding bravery
medals, the FBI goes to Sterner for possible verification of
the individual's awards.
"Regardless of the cost to the
Federal Government, we must begin to organize our records.
How many people know that a half-million records of awards
to members of the Navy and Marine Corps are maintained on
index cards in boxes at the Navy yard in Washington, D.C.
That is pathetic," said Cook.. "With the state of
the art electronics we have today, all records should be
digitized and available for recall."
"Some families have spent years
trying to find out what their loved one did to merit an
award. Some parents never received medals for valor even
though their loved one was awarded them posthumously. It is
a disgusting situation," Cook sighed.
Cook went on to elaborate on the need
for instant recall of awards. "We have documented cases
where families were denied the right to bury their loved
ones in Arlington National Cemetery because the records were
lost. Parents have died not knowing their son was awarded
the Distinguished Service Cross and was a hero. These
stories are all too plentiful and it is a National
"We have an obligation to those
who have gone into combat and been killed or wounded to at
least recognize their sacrifices by maintaining their heroic
deeds in a data base. The MOPH is in total support of the
'Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2007' being introduced
by certain Members of Congress."
While low in precedence, the
order in which military awards are displayed, the Purple Heart is
one of the most revered and sacred of
the medals awarded to members of the military. The oldest of our
military medals, it was established as the Badge for Military
Merit by General George Washington in 1782, fell into disuse, and
was revived on General Washington's 200th birthday as the Purple
Heart. It is awarded for PERSONAL SACRIFICE to those men and women
who are wounded or killed while defending freedom.
Every week, it seems, a
newspaper somewhere in America carries the story of a World War
II, Korea, or Vietnam Veteran who at last, after decades, is
finally awarded the Purple Heart he or she earned in service to
their nation. During time of war it
has not been uncommon for a General Officer to visit the hospital
where wounded warriors were recovering, to ceremoniously pin on
their pajamas the Purple Heart. Unfortunately, all too often, that
award was not duly recorded in their military records, and for
other recipients there is the sad reality that they number among
the 16 - 18 million WWII and Korean War veterans whose records
were destroyed in the 1973 fire in St. Louis. Decades later the
only proof many of them have of their combat wounds are the scars
still evident on their body.
The process of digitizing
citations for all awards would be invaluable in documenting many
otherwise undocumented combat wounds that merit award of the
Purple Heart. (Award of the Purple Heart further qualifies a
veteran for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.) Below is just
one citation for the Silver Star. Note it references the recipient
receiving wounds in this action:
|Vickery, Hugh J.
Sergeant, U.S. Army
Company H, 276th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry Division
Date of Action: January 12, 1945
The President of the United States takes
pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Hugh J.
Vickery (20232201), Sergeant [then Private First Class],
U.S. Army, for gallantry in action while serving with
Company H, 276th Infantry Regiment, 70th Infantry
Division, on 12 January 1945, near Rothbach, France.
Sergeant Vickery, having been wounded and awaiting
evacuation, did, when the enemy launched a strong
counterattack, in spite of his wounds and with utter
disregard for his own safety, return to his machine gun
section, assume command and calmly reorganized it. His
action inspired such confidence in the men of the section
that they successfully repulsed the counterattack.
Sergeant Vickery was again wounded in this action but
refused to leave his post until the enemy had been driven
Infantry Division, General Orders No. 93 (August 11, 1945)
Home of Record: Buffalo, New York
While this Purple Heart may
or may not have been awarded, and while it may or may not be
quickly verifiable through NPRC, what is evident from this
citation is the proof of Sergeant Vickery's right to have and wear
the Purple Heart. If PROPERLY DONE, digitizing the citations for
military awards will establish OFFICIALLY, the right to a Purple
Heart for thousands of previously wounded warriors, many of whose
records have been lost in the St. Louis fire. THOUSANDS of wounded
warriors will be properly remembered if only we take the time to
preserve such records.
the NEGATIVE side of the issue of Purple Hearts is also the
PHONIES who are quite prone to illegally wear the Purple Heart,
even MULTIPLE Purple Hearts. Marine Corps Colonel Theodore
Bantis was well-known in Illinois as a GREAT hero of the war in
Vietnam, though his exploits were classified missions that
could not be told and the documentation for which was SECRET. In
addition to the Navy Cross and multiple Silver and Bronze Stars,
he wore EIGHT Purple Hearts, bespeaking EIGHT separate combat
In fact, the record for
Purple Hearts is EIGHT awards, a record of sacrifice shared by
five men, all of them Army and only one of whom is still
living--Medal of Honor Recipient Colonel Robert L. Howard. In fact
Bantis was not a former Colonel--wasn't even a former Marine.
Theodore Bantis has never served in any branch of military
service. He escaped exposure for years because no comprehensive
listing of Purple Heart recipients exists. He was ultimately
exposed and prosecuted ONLY because he wore so many awards it
There remain in cities and
towns across America, THOUSANDS of Theodore Bantises with
perhaps less propensity for exaggeration or a little more wisdom,
who continue to masquerade as wounded warriors and may never be
exposed as frauds unless a comprehensive listing of Purple Heart
recipients is established and made readily available. Such a
database is the least we can do for those who got their Purple
hearts in exchange for the loss of a leg, arm, eye, or other grievous
wounds. Even more, it is the least we can do to remember the
nearly ONE MILLION men and women who didn't survive to wear the
Purple Heart purchased at the sacrifice of their life.