OVERLAND PARK. “This is not about my election. This is not about my being in the senate. … This is about my reaction to being maligned and my honor and service to this country.”
In particular, Owens wanted to demonstrate that he had in fact received three Bronze Star Medals for his military service.
In blog postings Dunwoody challenged whether Owens had earned three Bronze medals while serving in Vietnam. Dunwoody’s postings included:
- June 12: Stolen valor is far more than just a book
- June 16: How appropriate that today, Kansas has her own Weiner
- June 22: Senator Owens – Do you have photos?
Owens stated “I earned the awards I got” and explained details about his three Bronze Medals and other military distinctions to the press.
Dunwoody’s postings included information from Freedom of Information requests to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.
But Dunwoody saw a red flag in a response to another request for the actual Bronze Star medal citations. One FOIA response Dunwoody received said “The veteran’s Bronze Star medal citations you requested are not a matter of record.”
This statement led Dunwoody to believe Owens had never received the Bronze Star medals and had falsely claimed receiving them on Owens’ campaign web page.
Owens and Dunwoody never met in person or discussed the discrepancy on the phone.
“These documents are not in the record in St. Louis” at the National Personnel Records Center according to Owens. “They are awarded to the soldier.”
Owens showed the citations for his three bronze stars:
- Awarded Nov 12, 1969 for service May 1969 to Oct. 1969 by Major General Warren. K. Bennett
- 1st Oak Leaf Cluster awarded March 23, 1970 for service Oct. 1969 to March 1970 by Brigadier General W. R. Bond
- 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster awarded May 7, 1970 for service May 1969 to May 1970 by General Creighton Abrams
Owens said the commentaries for receiving the awards were “relatively the same” and that much of his service was as a counterintelligence officer in Vietnam. “I cannot talk about, and will talk about [my assignments].” Owens said details of his counterintelligence work would not be included in an award citation.
“I’ve never held out that I had any for valor” in a combat zone. Owens said his three Bronze Stars were all for meritorious service.
“I do not hang all this stuff on the wall. I don’t need an ‘I love me’ wall.” Owens explained the medals and citations had been in his basement in a trunk for 30 years instead of on a wall
Owens showed two of his three Bronze Stars to the press. “I gave the third Bronze Star to my mother because over a three years period of time waiting for us to come home, I thought she deserved a medal.”
Owens said the press conference today was the first one he remembers calling in 30 years of elected office. “That should tell you how significant I believe this is.”
Kansas Watchdog offered in a phone call to Dunwoody to give him a copy of the raw video of the press conference for his review and comment about Owens’ statements. Kansas Watchdog emailed Dunwoody photographs of the citations and medals early Thursday afternoon.
By midafternoon Thursday Dunwoody removed the blog postings about Owens and posted an apology:
Senator Owens in fact was awarded the three Bronze Star Medals that he claimed. My apologies to Senator Owens.
In an email to members of the Kansas Senate, Dunwoody offered this reflection:
When a politician makes public claims of awards, it should not take 7 months and a press conference to prove me wrong. But I was and I offer this apology to Senator Owens.
- Kansas senator rebuts blogger’s attack on war medals, Kansas City Star, Jun 23, 2011.
- Times change, but the rules shouldn’t, Kansas City Star, June 23, 2011.
- My Apologies To Senator Owens, NOlathe Blog, June 23, 2011.
- Owens’ bronze stars legit, military says, Kansas City Star‘s Prime Buzz, June 23, 2009.
- Veteran Receives Bronze Star Forty Years Late, Kansas Watchdog, Nov. 11, 2009.
Contact: Earl F Glynn, firstname.lastname@example.org, KansasWatchdog.org
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