For one local Korean War veteran and prisoner of war, the improper wearing and embellishment of war medals by the head of an association for the wars veterans was pretty low.
Anybody who pulled a caper like that, thats the lowest thing they can do, really, said Herbert A. Miller, a retired sergeant who served in the Korean War and World War II.
The Times contacted Mr. Miller by phone after a report Wednesday morning in the Post-Standard in Syracuse that nine of the 13 military honors worn to public events by James E. Ferris, president of the Korean War Veterans Association, belonged to his deceased older brother, Francis. The story, building off accusations first made on false valor reporting site www.thisainthell.us, also questioned Mr. Ferriss claims of serving in Korea during the war, as the unit he served in was primarily stationed in Japan during that period. The Post-Standard reported Mr. Ferris, from Clay, offered his resignation to the organizations board, but quoted the associations first vice president as saying it would not be accepted.
Mr. Miller, who lives in Fernwood, outside of Pulaski, said he had not met Mr. Ferris before. However, they attended the Medal of Honor ceremony for Army chaplain Capt. Emil Kapaun at the White House in April.
Mr. Miller and Capt. Kapaun were both taken as prisoners of war in November 1950 after Capt. Kapaun stopped a Chinese soldier from shooting him. Capt. Kapaun, who helped carry Mr. Miller to the prison camp, later died in captivity, while Mr. Miller survived after nearly three years in captivity.
Among the war honors Mr. Miller could remember receiving during his time in uniform were the Purple Heart and Bronze Star along with Combat Infantry Badges for both wars. He said he rarely wore his medals publicly.
Im proud of them and everything, but I dont wear them to show them off, Mr. Miller said.
Mr. Miller said he had joined the association several years ago, but he could not remember if he was still a member.
In 2006, legislation was passed making it a crime for a person to wear military medals that were not his own.
However, the law was struck down by the Supreme Court last year, on the argument those claims were protected on free speech grounds. A new legislative push is underway in Congress to make it a crime to benefit from such claims. Mr. Miller said he would support such legislation.
The Post-Standards report can be found at www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/korean_war_veterans_group_lead.html.