Unsung Glory; The Man Who Never Was

A common characteristic of recipients of the Medal of Honor is humility. Humility and a strong sense of honor, personal integrity and a principled uprightness of character. One man’s integrity was so strong that he refused to ever acknowledge that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor because the circumstances that put him there were based on a lie. He never told his family, and the conspiracy was only ever discovered because of the tradition that MoH holders are saluted by all ranks.

The story begins during WWII when a 16 1/2 year old boy used the stolen birth certificate of a dead man so that he could enlist in the Army and serve his nation. At 6’4″ no one questioned the validity, not that there were very stringent checks done in those days in the first place, and in the Army’s infinite wisdom they assigned him to an armor MOS. Soon realizing that a 6’4″ frame did not easily fit into a Sherman, he was reassigned to the infantry.

While serving in the 3rd Army under Patton’s command he would perform an act which would save the lives of his fellow soldiers and get him nominated for the Medal of Honor. During the approval process the details of his fraudulent enlistment were uncovered. The soldier, now two weeks past 18, was sent back to his unit, now under his real name, and the Medal was awarded in the name he had enlisted under. That name was subsequently listed as KIA. Since the deceased did not have any family members, no questions were asked. The home front had a dead hero to hold as an example of America’s finest, and the man who had actually earned the Medal was allowed to continue to serve without repercussions over the fraudulent enlistment.

All was well until his son decided to follow in his fathers footsteps and join the Army. When the local VFW hosted a shipping out party, he noticed several men saluting his father. He knew that his dad had been enlisted, so he asked one of the vets what was going on. They had all been sworn to secrecy, but one did let slip that “if he had not been there, we would not be here.”

His son served 22 years and after having been a senior NCO, he had figured out how the admin types had done it (awarding the Medal in the dead mans name and then having him listed as KIA) and began digging around for more information. His dad caught him sending an FOIA request to the Defense Department and made him promise that he would stop digging and just let the issue rest. He was only a man who “had kept his head while everyone else didn’t”. His personal honor kept him from acknowledging the Medal because he had enlisted under a lie. He even refused to be buried with military honors because of it. His sons argument that the two Bronze Stars he had earned under his own name rated the honors failed to persuade him. On his death bed he said “I am not a hero and never was. I just did what I had to do!”

When he died his son found an envelope with his will. In it was $500 and a note to tell the VFW honor guard not to show for his funeral. Instead he wanted them to throw a wake, not for him, but for those who had never come home.

Personal honor that strong is a rare commodity, and in and of itself is deserving of praise. So even though the Medal of Honor was awarded in the name of a man who was already dead, for the actions of a man who would deny them, those who were there know what he did, and they are alive because he was there, “keeping his head”. The details of which MoH action are his are lost in the secrecy of an oath made by men to whom their word is everything. With a little investigation the truth could probably be found out. But that would be an insult to the man whose life defined the true meaning of Honor and Integrity.

That man was LC Old Dog’s father, and I tell his story here to honor his memory.

25 comments

  1. 1
    LC Wil, S.C.E. says:

    If there was indeed any “dishonor” in enlisting in another man’s name, I’m pretty sure that little matter was wiped clean.

    May God Bless, Old Dog, and rest assured, your Dad is in the company of heros today.

  2. 2

    That man was LC Old Dog’s father, and I tell his story here to honor his memory.

    honor his memory indeed, I’ll do that too……what a hell of a story.

    now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye……

  3. 3
    LC Roguetek says:

    um… wow… just… wow…

  4. 4
    LC BU2 IMotBP says:

    One of many who had enlisted fraudulently in one way or another during that war so they they could serve the country that they loved so much.

    Is there any dishonor in that? There is NO dishonor in circumventing rules in order to do the right thing and to serve and fight honorably for what you believe.

    The proof is in the actions that earned the highest commendation that could be earned, whether or not the one who earned them would acknowledge those action, as others have recognized them as superior.

    Old Dog, though none of us may have ever met your father I say he stands as the highest example that any of us could ever struggle to attain.

    I know I don’t have to say this, but be proud of your father as surely as your father is proud of you.

  5. 5
    LC Aggie Sith says:

    LC BU2 IMotBP @:

    I second your post, kind sir.

    Old Dog, your father is among the most honorable.

    Excuse me for a while…seems the entire house is shrouded in dust. :em04:

  6. 6
    LC HJ Caveman82952 says:

    Dear God in heaven! :em04: I was astounded, this man…..and what a man, what he did! :em69: Contrast that to some grandstanding some of a bitch like Kerry or Murtha……if anything could damn one even more. Even in death he chose anonymity…………yet he seemed to feel he did something wrong in enlisting under age, using another mans name. If only so many others felt this way….
    What is it about our fathers?
    I read of this story, yet so many others among us have shared theirs as well, of men giving their all…
    And I have to wonder too…is that why we all ended up here?
    I salute Old Dog’s father. And always will…….

  7. 7
    mindy1 says:

    😥 WOW what an amazing story-I would NOT consider that dishonorable at all, he was trying to do the right thing, and even if he does not think so, he deserves much honor and respect. I wish our elected representatives had even an eighth of his honor-I will give him many salutes
    :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04: :em04:
    I wish we could hear the real story, i’ll bet it’s amazing

  8. 8
    LC Rurik says:

    I salute this man who was not and yet was, and who managed to father my friend. :em04:

    This remarkable tale of the man who refused to claim his proper honors, will serve as an eternal reproach every wannabe wo seeks to to claim honors not earned.

    It is a remarkable Old Dog, who comes from such a lineage :em04:

  9. 9
    lc purple raider says:

    I salute you, Old Dog, and I also salute your father. :em04: :em04: :em04:

    He is one of God’s troops, now.

  10. 10

    I second the wow.

    Im not often speechless. :em04:

  11. 11
  12. 12
    LC TerribleTroy, Imperial Centurion says:

    Seems to me Old Dogs Father represented the finest qualities of an American MAN. And Im sure OLD Dog benefited by being raised by such a man.

    After all OLD Dog aint no slouch……

    A very cool story I will be proud to pass on to others interested…

    Lets not let the example of Old Dogs father and others like him be for naught…. they didnt fight for socialism…. they fought for FREEDOM and survival. Honor thier efforts by keeping America FREE

  13. 13
    Tallulah says:

    Following the link (and wonderful story) from # 11, I found this. The Medal of Honor recipients’ citations, World War II.

    Here’s one, chosen at random. (Asterisk denotes that they were killed in battle.)

    *BEAUDOIN, RAYMOND O.

    Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company F, 119th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division. Place and date: Hamelin, Germany, 6 April 1945. Entered service at: Holyoke, Mass. Birth: Holyoke, Mass. G.O. No.: 9, 25 January 1946.

    Citation: He was leading the 2d Platoon of Company F over flat, open terrain to Hamelin, Germany, when the enemy went into action with machineguns and automatic weapons, laying down a devastating curtain of fire which pinned his unit to the ground. By rotating men in firing positions he made it possible for his entire platoon to dig in, defying all the while the murderous enemy fire to encourage his men and to distribute ammunition.

    He then dug in himself at the most advanced position, where he kept up a steady fire, killing 6 hostile soldiers, and directing his men in inflicting heavy casualties on the numerically superior opposing force. Despite these defensive measures, however, the position of the platoon became more precarious, for the enemy had brought up strong reinforcements and was preparing a counterattack. Three men, sent back at intervals to obtain ammunition and reinforcements, were killed by sniper fire.

    To relieve his command from the desperate situation, 1st Lt. Beaudoin decided to make a l-man attack on the most damaging enemy sniper nest 90 yards to the right flank, and thereby divert attention from the runner who would attempt to pierce the enemy’s barrier of bullets and secure help. Crawling over completely exposed ground, he relentlessly advanced, undeterred by 8 rounds of bazooka fire which threw mud and stones over him or by rifle fire which ripped his uniform.

    Ten yards from the enemy position he stood up and charged. At point-blank range he shot and killed 2 occupants of the nest; a third, who tried to bayonet him, he overpowered and killed with the butt of his carbine; and the fourth adversary was cut down by the platoon’s rifle fire as he attempted to flee. He continued his attack by running toward a dugout, but there he was struck and killed by a burst from a machine-gun.

    By his intrepidity, great fighting skill, and supreme devotion to his responsibility for the well-being of his platoon, 1st Lt. Beaudoin single-handedly accomplished a mission that enabled a messenger to secure help which saved the stricken unit and made possible the decisive defeat of the German forces.

  14. 14
    LC Gonzman says:

    Who was it that said not to weep with grief that such men have died, but with awe because such men lived?

  15. 15
    LC BU2 IMotBP says:

    LC Gonzman @ 14:

    Gonz, I couldn’t tell you who made that quote either, but I’ll stand beside you in vouching for the truth behind it. I think that quote applies to both Lt. Beaudoin and Old Dog’s father.

  16. 16
    anonymous hourly worker says:

    Sigh.

    If all men could be so brave and honorable.

  17. 17
    mindy1 says:

    LC Gonzman @:14 I am not sure, but I think that was patton-either way it’s a great quote :em04:

  18. 18
    LC PrimEviL says:

    Dayum, OD, . . just . . .dayum. What a man, what a story.
    Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery sez:

    now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye……

    Right behind ya, Jaybear. Pass the snot-rags, please.

  19. 19

    “Just doing what he had to do” somehow disqualified him from being a hero? If he went to his grave believing that, that doesn’t make it true. :em04:

  20. 20
    VonZorch Imperial Researcher says:

    The world is lessened by the passing of such men. :em04: :em04: :em04:
    Who’s cutting onions(sniffle)?

  21. 21
    Tonto, injun scout says:

    God I love this country!

  22. 22
    LC_Salgak says:

    Old Dog,

    Your father may not have considered himself a hero. His current companions know better. Here’s to some proper recognition in that big American Legion Hall in the sky, the “Valhalla” chapter. . . .

    :em04: :em04: :em04: :em03: :em04: :em04: :em04:

  23. 23
    LC Old Dog says:

    OK, it was never my intention to publicize Dad. I made a comment on a subject where I was hot and bothered. crunchie has a way of asking questions that makes me think he has some Intell background.

    Anyway he drug this out of me. One point I did not give him was one of Dads lines that almost broke my heart. Dad was very well read and could argue almost any subject from any point and hit me with one line.

    “They have a thing at the CIA where they put up a Star on a wall for an Agent who had died. No names are ever attached, the star is just there. I did what I thought I had to do but, I lied to get there and that taints all. Just say I put a Star on the Infantry Wall and let it rest”

    That was my Scots-Irish Father. I think He is a bit pissed at me that it went this far!

    I thank All of you for the comments but as Dad said, “Let it go Boy and never tell your Mother!”

    My father was 9 months older than my Mother. Her High School Diploma is dated two years earlier than my Fathers. It took me years to figure out why.

    Now, let it rest and forget it if possible.

    Somewhere, Somewhen, I will pay crunchie of the Magnificent Ass back!

    :em04:

  24. 24
    LC HJ Caveman82952 says:

    His star is bright, Old Dog…and I will let it rest. :em04:

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