As the authors of Fake Warriors: Identifying, Exposing and Punishing Those Who Falsify Their Military Service, we receive scores of emails on our website either asking questions about the Fake Warrior phenomenon (which has reached epidemic proportions), or reporting sightings which sometimes lead to exposure and even fines or jail terms.
One Vietnam vet with nearly forty years of military service who retired as a major, spurred on by the revelations in our book, and, in his words. “having seen hundreds of DD 214s” (a veteran’s Record of Transfer or Separation), recently decided to take a close look at John Kerry’s DD 214, which is posted on his website. What the major called to our attention, which we have since verified, raises some extremely troubling questions about John Kerry’s Silver Star. Keep in mind that the Silver Star is the third-highest medal our Nation can bestow (after only the Medal of Honor and the three service “Crosses”).
Kerry's DD 214 lists a Silver Star with a combat “V” (for valor). As the major correctly observes, the “V” is never awarded with the Silver Star. But the actual wording on Kerry’s DD 214 (see www.johnkerry.com) is: “SILVER STAR WITH COMBAT ‘V’.”
There is an abundance of anecdotal evidence that a combat “V” (called a “Combat Distinguishing Device”) is simply not awarded with a Silver Star. For example, a former Vietnam War POW told us that he has “three SSs, and there was no V for any of them.” Countless other Silver Star recipients all say the same thing. Why? Because, among other reasons, it would be redundant to award a Silver Star for “gallantry” (the statutory term) and then embellish it with a “V” for valor.
Most conclusive, however, is that the law is very clear about the award of Combat Distinguishing Devices. According to the Navy Awards Manual:
Bronze "V" (Combat Distinguishing Device).
Prior to . . . 1974, the "V" was authorized for wear on the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal. Between . . .1974 and . . . 1991, the "V" was authorized for wear on the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. [In] . . . 1991, the "V" was authorized for wear on the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. In all cases, the Combat Distinguishing Device may only be worn if specifically authorized in the citation. See also http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Valor_device.
Because the “V” is authorized for only the ten awards cited above, but not for the Silver Star, Kerry’s Silver Star citation (the “explanation” of why the award was made) does not even mention the “V” for valor (see www.johnkerry.com).
The presence of the combat “V” with Kerry’s Silver Star on his DD 214 raises two extremely disquieting questions. How did the unauthorized “V” get there, and why has Kerry allowed it to remain?
The first question should not be taken lightly because we are talking about possible federal crimes. We are talking about the possibility of a forged official document. We are talking, as well, about Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, which states: “[W]hoever, in any manner within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the United States, knowingly and willfully . . . makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.”
Was the combat “V” added by a sloppy clerk or a yeoman’s typo thirty years ago? Was someone pressured or persuaded to add it? If Kerry had nothing to do with the gratuitously added combat “V,” why didn’t he have his DD 214 corrected when he was separated from the Navy?
Which gives rise to the second disturbing question: If Kerry was not a party to the unauthorized “V,” why, for all these years, has he allowed his DD 214 to remain uncorrected and to repose on his website?
In light of the recent Swift Boat revelations and the cloud they have cast over Kerry’s awards, one plausible answer is that this is yet another example of Kerry’s multiple, and increasingly transparent, lies about his alleged heroics in Vietnam.
Let’s hope it won’t take a controversial TV spot to spark a mainstream media investigation of how candidate Kerry received an unearned “V” for valor.
Henry Mark Holzer [www.henrymarkholzer.com; email@example.com], Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, specializes in federal appeals. Erika Holzer [www.erikaholzer.com] is a lawyer and novelist. They are co-authors of “Aid and Comfort”: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam.