Medal of Honor Impostors
During two tours in Vietnam, I
never met as many Rangers, Green Berets or Navy Seals as one can find on almost any given
evening at the "watering holes" of virtually any American city. Thirty
years ago returning Vietnam veterans were told not to wear their uniforms into town, due
the negative responses the unpopular war often evoked. TIMES HAVE CHANGED!
Today, for whatever reason, Vietnam veterans are becoming recognized for their dedicated
service to the extent that large numbers of veterans who served in other theaters, and
even men who NEVER served in uniform, present themselves as Vietnam veterans. The
photo of "former Marine Corps Vietnam veteran" Ron DeJoseph at right, caught the
attention of the media when it was first printed in 1996. It also illustrates the
degree to which many men will go to portray themselves as Vietnam veterans and prey on the
sympathy of others. Ron DeJoseph was, much to the chagrin of the media which touted
this photo taken at the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall in New York,
The problem is not confined to
non-Vietnam veterans either. Virtually any military patch, pin, ribbon or medal can
be easily and cheaply purchased on the Internet or in local military surplus and supply
stores. This has made it easy for anyone who wants to (illegally) upgrade a Bronze
Star to Silver, obtain and wear a Purple Heart never earned, add a colorful "Ranger
Tab", or sport a Green Beret. There are organizations among Rangers, Special
Forces, and Navy Seals that aggressively pursue and expose the "fraudulent
elite". There is no more aggressive pursuit of impostors however, than that
conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) to expose, prosecute, and even
imprison the very WORST of all phonies....Medal of Honor impostors.
They range from a sitting judge in
Illinois (who claimed TWO Medals of Honor for heroism in Lebanon), to a truck driver in
Florida, to a California real estate executive. The phonies are sometimes veterans,
sometimes even combat veterans. There are others who have draped our Nation's
highest award for military valor around their neck, who have never served in uniform.
World War II Medal of
Honor recipient Mitchell Paige has devoted his time and energies to exposing the
fraudulent heroes who tarnish not only the Medal, but the title "Veteran".
He is backed by the full force of the F.B.I., let by one particularly effective and
resourceful special agent headquartered in New Jersey. The investigation has led to
the prosecution of the world's largest manufacturer of military medals for selling
unauthorized Medals of Honor, to the recovery of many of these bootlegged medals and even
the return of several legitimate Medals of Honor stolen from the true recipients.
Presently the F.B.I. has turned some of this collection into an exhibition to educate the
public on the Medal of Honor.
It is a violation of law (Title 18, U.S.C.) for a non-recipient of the Medal of
Manufacture the Medal of Honor (It is copyrighted)
Sell the Medal of Honor
Wear the Medal of Honor
Violators may be punished by fines up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to a
Loopholes in the law do not allow
prosecution of the fakes who "simply" mis-represent themselves as a Medal of
Honor recipient. These phonies usually have similar stories:
"I was a Navy SEAL (or Special
Forces), and our missions were TOP SECRET. For this reason my Medal of Honor
citation is classified."
Sadly, such common stories are not
only frequently believed by the general public, but printed in newspapers and broadcast on
TV. There have even been instances of these fakes riding as guests of honor in both
city-wide and official military parades.
How To Spot A Phony
Ironically, the phonies are usually
quite easy to spot...their stories are just too outlandish. There have been
instances when the details of a Medal of Honor have been classified to the point of the
citation being written in rather general terms. Such was the case with REAL Navy
Seal Thomas Norris who earned the Medal of Honor in Vietnam in 1972. Though details
of his action were classified for many years, a citation was still written and his Medal
of Honor presented in a VERY public ceremony in the White House by President Gerald Ford.
(You can read the story of Tom Norris' action, now declassified, HERE!)
Often the impostors claim to have
received their Medal for "covert" action in such places as Panama, South
America, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc.
The easiest way to spot a phony is
to check the HONOR ROLL. You can contact the Congressional Medal of Honor Society if
you have any questions, or peruse the names from the Honor Roll as presented in this web
site. At the bottom of this page we provide two lists:
A list of ALL living Medal of Honor
recipients. (There are 105 as of April 1, 2008). If someone tells you they
have the Medal of Honor and you can not find their name on this list....they are a fake, a
fraud, and a phony.
A list of ALL Medal of Honor
recipients from all wars since the Medal was authorized in 1861 (for the Navy - 1862 for the
Army). We have put this list together to include alternate spellings of legitimate
recipients, as well as including the alias of any TRUE recipient who served under or
received their medal under, a different name. If a person's name DOES NOT appear on
this list, they are NOT a Medal of Honor recipient.
all Medal of Honor impostors are living thieves. The grave stone at left, from a
cemetery in Wisconsin, is bogus. The corporal (whose last name we have erased for
the sake of surviving family) IS NOT a Medal of Honor recipient. (Currently an
effort is being made to correct this headstone.) The Medal of Honor headstone at the
right, from the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, TN, is a legitimate marker for Marion
Ross, who was the first posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.
The lies of the fakes and the frauds follow them, even in
death. It is a sad task to inform a family that the marker of a deceased loved one
is phony, based upon their faith and belief in the "war stories" told by a
relative who had no honor.
If you suspect that a Medal of Honor marker is fraudulent, you may check the
name against our complete roster of recipients. If the name on the marker is not
found in the list, the headstone is in error.
The headstone at the upper-right is the most commonly seen, legitimate Medal of
Honor headstone. The Medal of Honor Historical Society has spent the last several
years locating the graves of the TRUE recipients and insuring that they are marked by a
Medal of Honor headstone. Other legitimate headstones may differ in size and design,
especially when a "family" marker is used. If you are aware of a TRUE
Medal of Honor recipient who is buried without a Medal of Honor marker, please let us know
and we will send that information on to the Medal of Honor Historical Society.
What to Do if you Identify an Impostor
While the loopholes in the law do not
permit criminal prosecution of impostors who "simply" claim the Medal of Honor
but do not posses or display the medal, the matter is serious enough to be reported.
In some cases, when following up on such leads, the "verbal impostors"
have been found to actually have a bootleg Medal of Honor in their possession, though it
was not displayed.
If you suspect an impostor, first
check their name against our roster or contact the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to
verify the name against the Official Honor Roll maintained by them. You then have
Congressional Medal of Honor Society
40 Patriots Point Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: (843) 884-8862
Fax: (843) 884-1471
Visit the CMOHS Web Site
Contact the F.B.I.
Contact your local F.B.I. Office
|If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to:
B.G. Burkett has written an excellent book exposing those who would
heap praise upon themselves by stealing credit for heroism they never displayed. His
book, Stolen Valor, can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the button at
right. Current Price is $25.56. (Amazon.com prices are subject to change
without notice. Our link will provide updated price and order information.
|Roster of ALL
Recipients from All Wars
(Living and Deceased)
|Because of their size, these
pages load slowly (about 2 minutes for each page).