Eligibility for Military Awards

NSIAD-93-121R: Published: Feb 3, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 3, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO inquired into combat award actions initiated on behalf of a former Army member who fought in the Vietnam War battle of Hamburger Hill, focusing on his eligibility for the Medal of Honor and additional awards. GAO noted that: (1) the member was never recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 18, 1969; (2) there was no evidence of processing errors or injustice in the Army's decision to award the member the Bronze Star; (3) the member may be eligible to receive additional military honors for his actions on May 16, 1969; (4) the Army informed the member's former commanding officer in 1971 that he needed to resubmit certain documents for the Army to process a lost recommendation, but he has yet to resubmit them; (5) the member was awarded the Purple Heart for a wound he received on May 18, 1969; (6) a review of recommendations processed by the 101st Airborne Division for awards above the Silver Star and an interview with the former officer disclosed that the member was never directly recommended for the Medal of Honor; (7) it could not determine what award the officer originally recommended for the member; (8) in cases where a lost recommendation is alleged, the Army requires conclusive evidence that the recommendation was submitted into formal military channels within the time limit; and (9) the member was wounded more than once during the battle and may be eligible for additional awards of the Purple Heart.

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