November 8th, 2013
06:52 PM ET

Pentagon investigation: Petraeus did not want top honor for soldier

By Larry Shaughnessy

A nagging mystery of the Afghanistan war was why one Marine and one soldier were awarded Medals of Honor for their role in the same battle, but the honor was conferred nearly two years apart.

Turns out part of the reason is that Gen. David Petraeus, who once served as the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, didn't think the soldier, Army Capt. William Swenson, deserved the nation's highest award for valor.

Swenson three times exposed himself to overwhelming enemy fire to try to rescue wounded U.S. and Afghan troops during the Battle of Ganjgal in eastern Afghanistan in 2009.

Two years later, Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer was decorated with a Medal of Honor for similar actions in the same battle. Swenson was also recommended for the medal but his case became lost in the military bureaucracy.
FULL POST

October 15th, 2013
03:29 AM ET

For Medal of Honor recipient, award is a long time coming

Four years after a brutal battle in Afghanistan in which he was "outnumbered, outgunned, and taking casualties," former U.S. Army Captain William Swenson will become the sixth living recipient of the Medal of Honor at a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the White House.

Swenson, who retired from the Army in 2011, is being awarded the medal for his actions in the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal Valley in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of five Americans. Swenson is credited with risking his life to recover the bodies of his fellow soldiers.

The road to this honor has not been easy for Swenson, whose nomination was "lost" for a time, prompting questions from lawmakers and an eventual internal Pentagon investigation.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Medal of Honor
April 10th, 2013
10:54 PM ET

Soldier priest to get ultimate medal

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer

Capt. Emil Kapaun served in the U.S. Army in World War II and Korea but he didn’t carry a rifle and never fired a shot.  His weapons were a Bible and his faith.

Capt. Kapaun was also Father Kapaun, a Roman Catholic chaplain who will be awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday, 60 years after his death while a North Korean prisoner.  The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in the U.S. military.

Kapaun was born and raised in Pilsen, Kansas. After high school he attended Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Missouri. After the abbey, he studied for the priesthood at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. Kapaun was ordained in 1940 and that same year became a U.S. Army chaplain.

After serving at several posts in the United States and India, he left the Army and went to the Catholic University of America in Washington to earn a master's degree in education. After getting the degree in 1948, he returned to the Army.

In June 1950, Kapaun was ordered to Korea as the war was in its earliest stages.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Medal of Honor
February 5th, 2013
01:14 PM ET

Defending the "indefensible": Inside one of Afghanistan’s deadliest battles

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN’s Jake Tapper takes viewers inside the deadly battle at Combat Outpost Keating in an exclusive interview with Romesha and others who fought off the Taliban attack. “An American Hero: The Uncommon Valor of Clint Romesha” will air Thursday, February 7th at 10pET on CNN.

Next week, President Barack Obama will award former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha the nation's highest award for combat valor for his actions in repelling a deadly insurgent onslaught in Afghanistan in October 2009. He is the fourth living recipient to receive the award for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Romesha describes his thoughts about seeing Combat Outpost Keating for the first time. The remote outpost was at the foot of three large mountains and surrounded by a river on one side as well. By all military standards, the base was virtually impossible to defend because of the looming mountains that would ultimately give the Taliban a tactical advantage to shoot down into the base and offer deep cover to those fighters in the rocky mountainsides.

"This is a pretty indefensible spot. This is the exact opposite of when you open up the manual and look in to find the definition of finding a defensible spot, this is the total opposite of it," Romesha said in the interview with Tapper. FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Medal of Honor
Epic combat valor: Former soldier to receive Medal of Honor
January 11th, 2013
04:48 PM ET

Epic combat valor: Former soldier to receive Medal of Honor

By Mike Mount

A former U.S. Army staff sergeant will receive the nation's highest award for combat valor for his actions in repelling an insurgent onslaught in Afghanistan in 2009. He is the fourth living recipient to receive the award for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.

President Obama said on Friday that Clinton Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor next month.

Romesha is being recognized for his courage while a section leader with Bravo Troop, 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at combat outpost Keating.

The Medal of Honor: What is it?

The assault on the outpost in the eastern province of Nuristan goes down as one of the deadliest attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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Medal of Honor recipient victim of assault
President Obama awards Sgt. Dakota Meyer the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Afghanistan
December 13th, 2012
06:13 PM ET

Medal of Honor recipient victim of assault

By Larry Shaughnessy

Dakota Meyer, one of America's most-recent Medal of Honor recipients, was the victim in an altercation that left him with minor injuries, Kentucky authorities said Thursday.

Meyer was taken to Westlake Hospital early Sunday morning after a scuffle at the Red Barn Event Center near his home in Columbia, according to Trooper 1st Class Billy Gregory of Kentucky State Police.
FULL POST

House passes revamped Stolen Valor Act
A Medal of Honor on display. A new bill moving through Congress could ban profiting from wearing this and other medals you have not earned. (DoD Photo)
September 13th, 2012
08:04 PM ET

House passes revamped Stolen Valor Act

By Larry Shaughnessy

The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly passed a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, a bill aimed at people who lie about receiving military medals and then attempt to profit from the deception.

The first version of the Stolen Valor Act was struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the First Amendment.

The bill focuses not on people who lie about having medals they didn't earn, but on any profits they make from lying about the medals, which is essentially criminal fraud.
FULL POST

Justices dismiss law making lying about military honors a crime
June 28th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

Justices dismiss law making lying about military honors a crime

By CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law making it a crime to falsely claim military medals earned.

The 6-3 ruling was a free speech victory but perhaps in name only - for a onetime California public official who publicly lied about winning the prestigious Medal of Honor.

At issue is the constitutional value of false statements of fact, and whether Congress went too far when passing the Stolen Valor Act in 2006.
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Filed under: Justice Department • Medal of Honor • Military
43 years later, Medal of Honor for newlywed hero's sacrifice
May 15th, 2012
08:12 PM ET

43 years later, Medal of Honor for newlywed hero's sacrifice

By Larry Shaughnessy

Rose Mary Sabo Brown spent just 30 days with her new husband, Army Spec. Leslie Sabo Jr., before he shipped out to fight in Vietnam. But from that month together in 1969 grew a lifetime of love.

"We got married in September, he got to come home that weekend and we spent the night together and he had to go back to Georgia the next day," Brown told CNN. After that, Sabo was off to training before returning home for 30 days that fall.

"We only had that one month together as a married couple," she told CNN. "He left for Vietnam and I never saw him again."
FULL POST

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Filed under: Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor recipient settles lawsuit
December 15th, 2011
07:52 PM ET

Medal of Honor recipient settles lawsuit

By Charley Keyes

Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and defense contractor BAE announced Thursday an "amicable" end to their dispute.

Meyer filed a lawsuit in Texas in June claiming BAE, his former employer, had punished him for objecting to a weapons sale to Pakistan, and had prevented him from finding other work by portraying him as unstable and a problem drinker. The lawsuit against the company and his former supervisor has been dropped.  (Also read: Marines stand by version of Medal of Honor battle)

"BAE Systems OASYS and I have settled our differences amicably," Meyer said in a joint statement issued by the company, referring to the company by its full name. Meyer praised the defense firm's support for veterans and generosity to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

There were no details of any possible monetary settlement.

"During my time there I became concerned about the possible sale of advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan. I expressed my concerns directly and respectfully," Meyer said. "I am gratified to learn that BAE Systems OASYS did not ultimately sell and does not intend to sell advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan."

The company faced the difficult task of a potentially drawn-out legal battle against an American hero. FULL POST

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Filed under: Lawsuit • Medal of Honor • Military
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