Secrecy Surrounds Silver Star Medal Revocation

Are Senator John F. Kerry's medals also in danger of being revoked?  Don't count on it.

"San Diego -- In a highly unusual move, the Navy secretary has stripped a Silver Star awarded to a retired captain and Vietnam swift boat veteran who is serving a federal prison sentence after admitting to child pornography." -- Navy Times, July 25, 2011

Except for a few intrepid news and opinion outlets, plus Navy Times, a respected military newspaper, a cone of liberal silence descended around shocking news that a Silver Star medal for gallantry was yanked from a high-ranking Navy officer back in August 2010.  No why is given; it is shrouded in the mist of military bureaucracy.

What is clear: so far, the revocation of the third-highest honor in the pantheon of military medals is unrelated to the conviction of retired Navy Capt. Wade Sanders for possessing horrid child pornography.  He is serving a 37-month sentence in a federal prison for that felony crime, perpetrated in 2008, also largely unknown until now.

Military medals for gallantry are not lightly revoked.  Recipients are entitled to recognition due for their heroic self-sacrificing deeds as portrayed in medal citations.  Medals are a way for a grateful nation to thank its real-life heroes for risking their lives in uniform.  Knowingly false reporting for medal consideration is a court-martial offense.

All the more reason higher grades of medals, leaving out "good conduct" stuff, ought to be based on facts, not fancy, nor on exaggerated tales of faux bravery.  Fudging facts is off-limits.  I know.  As additional duty back in the sixties, I wrote medal citations from after-action reports.  To be frank, at times I doubted the total veracity of walk-on-water heroics in those field reports.  Sometimes, albeit rarely, I requested additional info from commanders.  Some were irked by that.  "Damn headquarter types," grumbled one light bird, rebuffing my request as unpatriotic, or something dastardly.

Revoking Sanders' Silver Star is no small or laughing matter.  It is all the more noteworthy because he introduced his fellow swift boat vet and Navy pal John F. Kerry at the 2004 Democrat National Convention in Boston.  That was when Kerry portrayed himself as a national hero "reporting for duty," with a smart salute.  Sanders served as Kerry's point man, and he proved to be a tenacious attack dog.  Sanders tired his best to "take down" the noble, ultimately successful efforts of the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth.

(In his effort to discredit "swift boaters" by his smearing, Capt. Sanders and his slimy ilk were joined by many in mainstream media.  Such was the blind, uncritical support for the Massachusetts liberal.  Birds of a feather, and let objectivity be damned?)

The key question, still not answered, is why the Navy took this award back.  Was it because, in addition to the subject being retired Navy brass, he also served as deputy assistant Navy undersecretary in the Clinton administration?

And why the silence since last August?  It goes unexplained.  Perhaps some dogged news hound could file a Freedom of Information petition to find out?  Aw shucks, but it didn't work to reach Kerry's military records.  Worth another try?

A spokesperson for Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus says the revocation was made following review and recommendation by the Navy Department's Board of Medals and Decorations.  "[Secretary] Mabus signed a memorandum in which he revoked the previously awarded Silver Star," said Capt. Pamela Kunze, cryptically, without adding much detail.  Except for this paragraph, pregnant with understated meaning:

Had the subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself been known to the Secretary of the Navy in 1992, [when Sanders received the award, well after the war] those facts would have prevented the award of the Silver Star.

Capt. Kunze, a rank equivalent  to colonel in other branches, would not say who or what prompted the review of Sanders' Silver Star.  Nor would she say what new information had surfaced to bring about the 2010 revocation.

At a minimum we know the revocation was factually based.  Thank God for small truths, but must the rest of the story be left to speculation?  What purpose?  Or, like Kerry's military medical records, is the revocation to be kept forever a military secret?  Sanders, shilling for Kerry, libeled his fellow Swift Boat vets something terrible.  Among other dark things, he called them disciples of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: that is, outright liars.  Secrecy protects him.

Having a medal withdrawn is not small potatoes.  Newsworthy, especially considering the Kerry connection.  So why the lack of publicity?  Now hear this: Mainstream media were mostly in the tank for Sen. Kerry.

So it stands to bare reason, if nothing else, that silence of media liberals attends Capt. Sanders' loss of his medal, along with being imprisoned on child pornography charges.  If Capt. Sanders is not entitled to his medals, what about John F. Kerry?  Were these the same he claimed he tossed over a fence protesting the war, then recovered, apparently, to be posted on his Senate office wall?  Those medals?

We await news now from inquiring new media, not giving much hope to the mainstream, for further details on this enigmatic case.  We are not holding our breath on this, I swear, but a few answers on this case would be truly enlightening.

(Editor's note: Larson's article giving reasons for Senator Kerry's defeat in '04 was titled "Swifties Sink the USS John F. Kerry" as found at the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth website.)

Gary Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor and a former Stars & Stripes reporter for its Far East edition in the mid-1960s.  He is not the retired cartoonist of the same name.

Are Senator John F. Kerry's medals also in danger of being revoked?  Don't count on it.

"San Diego -- In a highly unusual move, the Navy secretary has stripped a Silver Star awarded to a retired captain and Vietnam swift boat veteran who is serving a federal prison sentence after admitting to child pornography." -- Navy Times, July 25, 2011

Except for a few intrepid news and opinion outlets, plus Navy Times, a respected military newspaper, a cone of liberal silence descended around shocking news that a Silver Star medal for gallantry was yanked from a high-ranking Navy officer back in August 2010.  No why is given; it is shrouded in the mist of military bureaucracy.

What is clear: so far, the revocation of the third-highest honor in the pantheon of military medals is unrelated to the conviction of retired Navy Capt. Wade Sanders for possessing horrid child pornography.  He is serving a 37-month sentence in a federal prison for that felony crime, perpetrated in 2008, also largely unknown until now.

Military medals for gallantry are not lightly revoked.  Recipients are entitled to recognition due for their heroic self-sacrificing deeds as portrayed in medal citations.  Medals are a way for a grateful nation to thank its real-life heroes for risking their lives in uniform.  Knowingly false reporting for medal consideration is a court-martial offense.

All the more reason higher grades of medals, leaving out "good conduct" stuff, ought to be based on facts, not fancy, nor on exaggerated tales of faux bravery.  Fudging facts is off-limits.  I know.  As additional duty back in the sixties, I wrote medal citations from after-action reports.  To be frank, at times I doubted the total veracity of walk-on-water heroics in those field reports.  Sometimes, albeit rarely, I requested additional info from commanders.  Some were irked by that.  "Damn headquarter types," grumbled one light bird, rebuffing my request as unpatriotic, or something dastardly.

Revoking Sanders' Silver Star is no small or laughing matter.  It is all the more noteworthy because he introduced his fellow swift boat vet and Navy pal John F. Kerry at the 2004 Democrat National Convention in Boston.  That was when Kerry portrayed himself as a national hero "reporting for duty," with a smart salute.  Sanders served as Kerry's point man, and he proved to be a tenacious attack dog.  Sanders tired his best to "take down" the noble, ultimately successful efforts of the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth.

(In his effort to discredit "swift boaters" by his smearing, Capt. Sanders and his slimy ilk were joined by many in mainstream media.  Such was the blind, uncritical support for the Massachusetts liberal.  Birds of a feather, and let objectivity be damned?)

The key question, still not answered, is why the Navy took this award back.  Was it because, in addition to the subject being retired Navy brass, he also served as deputy assistant Navy undersecretary in the Clinton administration?

And why the silence since last August?  It goes unexplained.  Perhaps some dogged news hound could file a Freedom of Information petition to find out?  Aw shucks, but it didn't work to reach Kerry's military records.  Worth another try?

A spokesperson for Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus says the revocation was made following review and recommendation by the Navy Department's Board of Medals and Decorations.  "[Secretary] Mabus signed a memorandum in which he revoked the previously awarded Silver Star," said Capt. Pamela Kunze, cryptically, without adding much detail.  Except for this paragraph, pregnant with understated meaning:

Had the subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself been known to the Secretary of the Navy in 1992, [when Sanders received the award, well after the war] those facts would have prevented the award of the Silver Star.

Capt. Kunze, a rank equivalent  to colonel in other branches, would not say who or what prompted the review of Sanders' Silver Star.  Nor would she say what new information had surfaced to bring about the 2010 revocation.

At a minimum we know the revocation was factually based.  Thank God for small truths, but must the rest of the story be left to speculation?  What purpose?  Or, like Kerry's military medical records, is the revocation to be kept forever a military secret?  Sanders, shilling for Kerry, libeled his fellow Swift Boat vets something terrible.  Among other dark things, he called them disciples of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: that is, outright liars.  Secrecy protects him.

Having a medal withdrawn is not small potatoes.  Newsworthy, especially considering the Kerry connection.  So why the lack of publicity?  Now hear this: Mainstream media were mostly in the tank for Sen. Kerry.

So it stands to bare reason, if nothing else, that silence of media liberals attends Capt. Sanders' loss of his medal, along with being imprisoned on child pornography charges.  If Capt. Sanders is not entitled to his medals, what about John F. Kerry?  Were these the same he claimed he tossed over a fence protesting the war, then recovered, apparently, to be posted on his Senate office wall?  Those medals?

We await news now from inquiring new media, not giving much hope to the mainstream, for further details on this enigmatic case.  We are not holding our breath on this, I swear, but a few answers on this case would be truly enlightening.

(Editor's note: Larson's article giving reasons for Senator Kerry's defeat in '04 was titled "Swifties Sink the USS John F. Kerry" as found at the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth website.)

Gary Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor and a former Stars & Stripes reporter for its Far East edition in the mid-1960s.  He is not the retired cartoonist of the same name.

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