In December 2006 Congress just passed the Stolen Valor Act, an enhancement of Federal law making it a felony to wear medals that you have not earned. This great site exposes and shames fake heroes and it is great that these scumbags can now be sent to prison.
But what about people who got medals they did not deserve?
As a case in point, consider Gen Douglas MacArthur. Big Mac always wanted to get the Medal of Honor as a teenager just like his father did in the Civil War (when MOH winners were far more common than in the 20th century), but it’s tough to get your hands dirty in combat when you are a four-star desk jockey. Could there be another way, if you happen to be a 5-star general?
The Father-and-son Medal of Honor Winners
Douglas’ Dad, Arthur Macarthur was a brave teenaged officer in the Civil War, back when the U.S.A gave out the “medal of Honor” like candy. Arthur got his MOH at age 18, and was a Lt. Col by 19 years old.
Young Douglas MacArthur was born in 1880 when Arthur was 35 years-old and the lad idolized his Dad, but he was troubled that after the Army tightened the criteria for the Medal of Honor that he had a snowballs chance of hell of getting the medal as a teenager, like Daddy.
During WWI, MacArthur was a real-deal hero, fearlessly charging into the fray and receiving two Distinguished Service Crosses, seven Silver Stars, a Distinguished Service Medal, and two Purple Hearts.
You don’t win seven silver stars without having huge nads.
Even Audie Murphy (the most decorated U.S. soldier in history) only got the Silver Star twice.
But what about Gen. MacArthur?
Granted, MacArthur was very brave in combat, but you have to question medals that are outside of his area (flying a desk):
This 1951 TIME magazine article notes that Gen. MacArthur could not have possibly met the requirements of aerial combat to earn his DFC.
True, the DFC medal is in his record, but it is fairly well documented that it was not "extraordinary", by any definition:
"And Stratemeyer awarded MacArthur the Distinguished Flying Cross ("for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight"), on the ground that MacArthur's flying visits to Korea were made "under conditions presenting the threat of hostile air interception."
And this, well, it speaks volumes about Mac Arthur’s character:
“When MacArthur finally landed, he passed out Silver Stars to three Marine officers—and two South Korean naval officers who happened to be passing by.”
I personally find this an affront to all servicemen who earned "real" medals for valor and extraordinary achievement in combat. I was 8 years-old when Macarthur died, and since I’d never heard of him, my Dad treated me to the shameful account of this medal-chasing prick and the horrors of the men he abandoned in the Philippines. I was told that Mac was arrogant to a fault, believed that he was invincible, and was indeed cool under fire, but only because he was nutty.
Cowardice presented as Heroism?
It’s just sickening that MacArthur’s act of cowardice (leaving his men behind to face the Bataan Death March) was warped into an act so courageous as to warrant the Congressional Medal of Honor. In fairness, Mac wanted to stay but was ordered to abandon his men, but still, how does abandonment translate into gallantry? Here is the Congressional Medal of Honor citation for this jackass who left hundreds of men to be captured by the Japanese invaders:
“Citation: For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.”
I wonder if it might be appropriate to posthumously prosecute Douglas MacArthur under the Stolen Valor Act?