IN THE CASE OF:
BOARD DATE: 2 July 2014
DOCKET NUMBER: AR20130020046
THE BOARD CONSIDERED THE FOLLOWING EVIDENCE:
1. Application for correction of military records (with supporting documents provided, if any).
2. Military Personnel Records and advisory opinions (if any).
THE APPLICANT’S REQUEST, STATEMENT, AND EVIDENCE:
1. The applicant requests award of the Bronze Star Medal for valor. He also requests to have his last name changed on his WD AGO 53-55 (Enlisted Record and Report of Separation – Honorable Discharge).
2. The applicant states he was a member of the 66th Armored Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division, and the account of his experiences are fully described in a book he wrote entitled The Hand of God. All accounts in the book are absolutely true and factual. Very soon after engaging the enemy he was hit by gunfire and describes what happened thereafter on that day. He hopes his story is sufficient for award of the Bronze Star Medal. He also states he legally changed his name to V—- H—- in 1953.
3. The applicant provides:
* WD AGO Form 100 (Separation Qualification Record)
* WD AGO 53-55
* self-authored letter
* book titled The Hand of God
CONSIDERATION OF EVIDENCE:
1. Title 10, U.S. Code, section 1552(b), provides that applications for correction of military records must be filed within 3years after discovery of the alleged error or injustice. This provision of law also allows the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) to excuse an applicant’s failure to timely file within the 3-year statute of limitations if the ABCMR determines it would be in the interest of justice to do so. While it appears the applicant did not file within the time frame provided in the statute of limitations, the ABCMR has elected to conduct a substantive review of this case and, only to the extent relief, if any, is granted, has determined it is in the interest of justice to excuse the applicant’s failure to timely file. In all other respects, there are insufficient bases to waive the statute of limitations for timely filing.
2. The applicant’s military records are not available to the Board for review. A fire destroyed approximately 18million service members’ records at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973. It is believed that his records were lost or destroyed in that fire. The following information was derived from documents furnished by the applicant.
3. His WD AGO Form 53-55 shows he was inducted into the Army of the United States on 15 February 1943 and he entered active service on 22 February 1943. He was honorably discharged on 22 November 1945.
4. His WDAGOForm53-55 shows in:
* Item 1 (Last Name First Name Middle Initial) “H———– V—-”
* Item 6 (Organization) “Co C 66th Armd Inf Bn 12th Div”
* Item 32 (Battles and Campaigns) he was credited with participation in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns
* Item33 (Decorations and Citations) Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge
* Item55 (Remarks) he was issued the Lapel Button
5. His WDAGOForm53-55 also shows he arrived in England on 1 October 1944, departed from overseas on 20 May 1945, and arrived in the United States on 11 June 1945.
6. His available records do not contain orders or a recommendation for award of the Bronze Star Medal for valor.
7. He provides a book titled The Hand of God. This book shows the author’s name as V—- H—-. The foreword states that his name was V—- H———– when he entered the service. He states he went into show business after college and changed his name to V—- H—- for obvious reasons.
8. Army Regulation 600-8-22 (Military Awards) provides that the Bronze Star Medal is awarded for heroism and for meritorious achievement or service in military operations against an armed enemy. The bronze “V” device is worn on the Bronze Star Medal to indicate receipt of the award for acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy. As with all personal decorations, formal recommendations, approval through the chain of command, and announcement in orders are required.
a. Title10, U.S.Code, section1130, provides the legal authority for consideration of proposals for decorations not previously submitted in a timely fashion. Upon the request of a Member of Congress, the Secretary concerned shall review a proposal for the award of or upgrading of a decoration. Based upon such review, the Secretary shall determine the merits of approving the award.
b. The request, with a DAForm638 (Recommendation for Award), must be submitted through a Member of Congress to: Commander, U.S.Army Human Resources Command, ATTN: AHRC-PDP-A, 1600Spearhead Division Avenue, FortKnox, KY 40122. The unit must be clearly identified, along with the period of assignment and the recommended award. A narrative of the actions or period for which recognition is being requested must accompany the DAForm638. Requests should be supported by sworn affidavits, eyewitness statements, certificates, and related documents. Supporting evidence is best provided by commanders, leaders, and fellow Soldiers who had personal knowledge of the facts relative to the request. The burden and costs for researching and assembling supporting documentation rest with the applicant.
9. Army Regulation 600-8-22 also states the Bronze Star Medal is authorized for each individual who was cited in orders or awarded a certificate for exemplary conduct in ground combat between 7December 1941 and 2September 1945 or whose such achievement or service, during that period, was confirmed by documents executed prior to 1July 1947. An award of the Combat Infantryman Badge is considered to be a citation in orders. Therefore, the Bronze Star Medal is to be awarded to individuals who were authorized this badge for service during World War II.
10. A review of his record indicates entitlement to additional awards not listed on his WD AGO Form53-55.
11. The World War II Prisoners of War Data File maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration shows, on 16January 1945, the applicant was reported detained by Germany.
12. Army Regulation 600-8-22 states the Prisoner of War Medal was authorized on 8 November 1985 and is awarded to individuals who in past armed conflicts were taken prisoner or held captive after 5 April 1917.
13. Army Regulation 635-8 (Separation Processing and Documents) prescribes the transition processing function of the military personnel system. This regulation provides principles of support, standards of service, policies, tasks, rules, and steps governing required actions in the field to support processing personnel for separation and preparation of separation documents. It directs that, in the case of prisoners of war, enter the unit of assignment, country, and the dates of capture and release.
14. Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1 (Unit Citation and Campaign Participation Credit Register) lists campaign credits for WorldWarII units. This pamphlet shows the 66th Armored Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division, was credited with participation in the Ardennes-Alsace campaign from 16 December 1944-25 January 1945.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS:
1. The applicant’s contentions and the account of his experiences contained in the book he provides in regard to his alleged heroism and valor in combat are noted. His sincerity of his claim is not questioned. Unfortunately, there is no evidence indicating he was recommended for or awarded the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device for his actions in combat.
2. Absent orders awarding him this medal or official documentation confirming that such orders were published, there is an insufficient basis upon which to correct his WDAGOForm53-55 to show award of the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device.
3. While there is no available evidence to support awarding the applicant the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device, this in no way affects his right to pursue his claim for award of the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device by submitting a request through his Member of Congress under the provisions of Title10, U.S.Code, section1130.
4. Notwithstanding the above, based on his award of the Combat Infantryman Badge, he is entitled to award of the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service and to have this award added to his WDAGOForm53-55.
5. He was a prisoner of war during World War II. Therefore, it would be appropriate to add the Prisoner of War Medal to his WDAGOForm53-55. Though the exact dates of his captivity are not known, it would also be appropriate to amend item 55 (Remarks) of his WD AGO Form
53-55 to show “PRISONER OF WAR, Company C, 66th Armored Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division/Germany, January-May 1945.”
6. His WDAGOForm53-55 shows he served in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns in the EAME Theater. Department of the Army Pamphlet 672-1 shows the unit to which he was assigned was cited for campaign credit in the Ardennes-Alsace campaign in addition to the above campaigns. He was awarded the EAME Campaign Medal and evidence shows he was credited with service in three campaigns. Therefore, he is entitled to correction of his WDAGO Form 53-55 to show three bronze service stars for wear with the previously-awarded EAME Campaign Medal.
7. Throughout his military service he used the last name listed on his WD AGO Form 53-55. He states he legally changed his name after his military service.
8. For historical purposes, the Army has an interest in maintaining the accuracy of its records. The data and information contained in those records should reflect the conditions and circumstances that existed at the time the records were created. In the absence of a showing of material error or injustice, there is a reluctance to recommend that those records be changed. While it is understandable the applicant desires to now record his current last name in his military records, there is not a sufficiently compelling reason for compromising the integrity of the Army’s records at this late date.
9. In view of the foregoing, the applicant is entitled to have his records corrected as shown below.
________ ________ ________ GRANT FULL RELIEF
____X____ ___X_____ ___X_____ GRANT PARTIAL RELIEF
________ ________ ________ GRANT FORMAL HEARING
________ ________ ________ DENY APPLICATION
1. The Board determined the evidence presented was sufficient to warrant a recommendation for partial relief. As a result, the Board recommends that all Department of the Army records of the individual concerned be corrected by:
a. awarding him the Bronze Star Medal based on award of the Combat Infantryman Badge;
b. deleting the EAME Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars from his WD AGO Form 53-55;
c. adding to his WD AGO Form 53-55 the Bronze Star Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, and the EAME Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars; and
d. adding “PRISONER OF WAR, Company C, 66th Armored Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division/Germany, January-May 1945” to item 55 of his WD AGO Form 53-55.
2. The Board further determined the evidence presented is insufficient to warrant a portion of the requested relief. As a result, the Board recommends denial of so much of the application that pertains to award of the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device and changing his last name on his WD AGO Form 53-55.
_______ _ _X______ ___
I certify that herein is recorded the true and complete record of the proceedings of the Army Board for Correction of Military Records in this case.
ABCMR Record of Proceedings (cont) AR20130020046
ARMY BOARD FOR CORRECTION OF MILITARY RECORDS
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
ABCMR Record of Proceedings (cont) AR20130020046
ARMY BOARD FOR CORRECTION OF MILITARY RECORDS
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS