The following from an email sent on 26 NOV by Ted Curtis in the CCA.
Recently I have discovered something in front of my face this whole time………..that no one from HHQ, no one from any army review board, no one in the chain-of-command contacted any eyewitness to the mission that killed Cpt Nelson, nor were any unit member on that mission ever contacted.The primary eyewitness’s, Ogrady, McChesney, Counts were never questioned, or asked to verify, or give any account of the action. In fact, the only written material describing the action is the Citation! No support material, no after-battle report, nothing except the Citation and the endorsing documents that went along with the submission. Apparently no one ever asked eyewitness’s or A&D Officer for additional material and nobody apparently ever made an effort to contact those personnel.
My research found that when a submission of an MOH is made “intense scrutiny of the documents and sworn testimonials are conducted by the review board”. It is SOP to contact eyewitness’s or ask for sworn testimony! That did not happen here, so my question is , did this ever reach a review board?If it did, this review board may not have followed protocol.
Next question: If Nelson was submitted for the MOH how and on what basis was it downgraded and then declared worthy of the DSC? That is a pretty nice award for valor and just a niche under the MOH……….but not a single person in the army asked any one at the battle scene to confirm , or expand on Nelson’s actions. So why was a DSC awarded and who authorized it?
The action occurred on 5 June1966. There is a communication to the family from a Major General in the Office of the Adjutant General informing the them that the DSC was awarded dated 11 Oct. On that same letter are dates of 23 Sept and 11 Aug annotated next to office names and with coding………indicating that the decision to award the DSC was made before 11 Aug and passed through the chain-of-command for approvals.If true, it took only 2 months to downgrade the MOH and receive an approval for a DSC——and the approval came w/ any verification of the facts. How can that be? Is that the normal process for DSC’s—–just submit for one and it is approved like a Commendation medal?
I don’t know if it can happen———maybe someone here knows———-but can an Awards & Decs Officer submit a unit member for a Medal of Honor and that submission be repressed/dismissed/downgraded by someone in the chain before it even leaves In-theatre? Can a Field Commander at regiment level and rank of Colonel downgrade a MOH submission on his own?
More directly to the point——-Sworn statement by Cpt Ogrady says he initiated an MOH submission. Lt Bailey Jones, in a published manuscript that was edited and endorsed by Battalion Commander Lt Col Bill Maddox,specifically states that Nelson was submitted for the MOH. 114thAHC members Mike Schrumpf, Paul Bannon and Dick Duerr have stated they were under the impression that Nelson was submitted for the MOH.The General Order announcing the DSC comes from the office of the Adjutant General, not In-theatre where there was already authority to announce DSC awards. According to the Historian at US Army Human Resources Command…………a command that also reviews MOH submissions………..says the General Order, which was announced by HQDA, almost certainly indicates the submission reached out-of-theatre HHQ as USARV had authority to announce DSC awards In-theatre.
To add to the mystery, no documents associated with the award have been found —–even by a paid professional researcher. That also seems strange since one would think that submissions of an award like the MOH which were denied would be retained in order to offer a defense for the decision, or to later review the decision. Certainly, MOH submissions is no small matter in which the supporting documents would be routinely purged.
Summary: This is one strange case! Obviously a selfless act in combat by a soldier who sacrificed his life for another and led to the rescue of the entire crew has no documentation, no questions raised at the time, no scrutiny………nothing! It does have the issuance of the nations 2ndhighest award, but no one knows from whence it came, or why? No record of who, why, when the submission was downgraded………….I believe there is reason to believe the possibility that an injustice occurred for a mysterious reason.
I believe this information should be posted on the website in case someone may know something about how this could——or even if it couldn’t——happen.