Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The jewelry box was on a living room end table.

Inside it was a blue ribbon, neatly arranged and attached to an inverted five-pointed gold medal that looked like an upside down Sheriff's star from the Old West.

It was the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest award for valor in combat.

It took my breath away.

It belonged to Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy, then a retired Chicago firefighter living out his life in Delray Beach and one of 27 Marine Medal of Honor recipients from the bloody February 1945 invasion of Iwo Jima.

No military engagement in our nation's history produced more such distinguished men.

What brings it to mind is Wednesday's news that Marine corporal Dakota Meyer's heroism in Afghanistan in September 2009, which won him a Medal of Honor two years later, may have been exaggerated by Marine brass.

Meyer, 23, was recognized by President Obama for driving twice into an ambush in Afghanistan against orders. He is said to have saved 13 U.S. soldiers and almost twice that many Afghan soldiers, while killing eight insurgents as he fought to recover the bodies of four comrades.

But is it true?

According to an investigation of dozens of military documents by McClatchy Newspapers, which owns the Bradenton Herald, "crucial parts that the Marine Corps publicized and Obama described are untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated."

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