The Man Who Bought – And Wore – A Medal of Honor He Did Not Earn
Over the course of history, numerous military tales have been told; stories of the moments that shaped history, the times that victories were secured and glory won and the periods when forces were vanquished. And yet, stories of heroism and those who impacted society positively remain an inspiration.
The Medal of Honor, the highest distinction in the U.S military, is awarded to heroes to celebrate their bravery and sacrifice. However, for Jackie Stern, a 67-year-old veteran from Florida, the medal was obtained through falsehoods and fraud.
The story of Jackie Stern
Jackie Stern was an Army Veteran from the Korean War. His Medal of Honor made him a local hero among his local community in Broward County, Florida. For a whole decade, everyone was convinced that Stern was a hero. He wore his medal everywhere he went and related stories of his heroism in parades, veterans’ organizations and police stations. He actually told of a story where he risked his life in an effort to save the unit in which he served.
Police became suspicious
A brave hero who has diligently earned their Medal of Honor would have no problem sharing their inspiring story. However, Stern came across as a vocal and visible attention-seeker. His unbecoming public displays drew the suspicion of police who went ahead to question him. It later emerged that Jackie Stern had not earned his medal and the recognition that comes with it. In fact, the former soldier was stationed in the U.S as a driver and polygraph operator. He was always safe from danger and had never been deployed outside the country during a conflict.
Stern was arrested and arraigned before a District Court, where he pleaded guilty to the charges and apologized to veterans. After confessing his guilt, Stern faced six months in jail. However, he was lucky as the judge handed him one-year probation, letters of apology to all living Medal of Honor recipients as well as voluntary service to give back to veterans.
How Jackie Stern got the medal
Since Congress awards the Medal of Honor in an official ceremony, it was surprising how Stern acquired the medal. Since he had not gained the recognition, such records did not exist.
This is because Stern had bought the medal at a military show in New Jersey. At $ 800, Stern got his hands on a genuine medal that had never been issued, seeing this as a cheap rote to publicity.
Stern was ordered to publish an apology in newspapers on Memorial Day as well as write all living recipients of the medal personal letters of apology. The former soldier further acknowledged that his actions had tarnished the dignity of former recipients. Lastly, the second part of his punishment involved volunteering at a Veterans Administration Hospital for a total of 250 hours.