The Silver Star Medal is awarded for gallantry greater than that required of most other U.S. combat decorations. If someone was to falsify documents in order to receive such an honor, it would be sacrilege to many people.
Dennis William Myers, a U.S. Navy veteran, is being accused of fabricating documents in order to receive the medal, which was awarded to him by Senator Tom Harkin’s office. According to the Army Times, Myers provided the senator’s office with a certificate that stated he should receive it. The paperwork was unsigned and undated.
Now several military groups and advocates are questioning if Myers, 64, is a rightful recipient of one of the nation’s highest military honors. He has adamantly denied any wrongdoings and told The Des Moines Register that he was part of a covert mission, which is why some of his records are not up-to-date or reflected in public military records.
“In my opinion, it’s 100 percent bogus, and I feel he ought to be prosecuted for it,” said Mary Schantag, Chairwoman of the POW Network, an educational nonprofit based in Missouri. “He lied to a senator, and he reproduced an official certificate, and the forging of military documents is a crime.”
Myers said the certificate came from the American War Library, a private business in California. The business would not answer questions about how they verify military service awards before issuing certificates. It is known that a certificate like Myers can be purchased and emailed for as little as $9.50.
“Everybody can call me a liar and all that stuff but, hey, I know. I was there,” Myers said.
Questions arose when Doug Sterner, curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, saw the unsigned certificate provided by Harkin’s office. Sterner verifies the legitimacy of military honors before adding the information to their database.
The Army Times reported that members of Harkin’s staff have not answered questions over the past week about how or whether they had attempted to verify the authenticity of the documents with official military records. However, they are changing their policy on how they confirm with service branches on the legitimacy of documents and certificates.
Scott Levins, Director of the National Personnel Records Center, stated that it is possible that there is a request to update Myers military record but it may not have been processed yet. It can sometimes take up to several months for information to be processed by his office. According to Myers, it has been nine months since his records should have been updated to reflect him as a Silver Star recipient.
The U.S. Navy is conducting an investigation on the matter.