By Jan Worth-Nelson
Claims by David Meier, 67, a candidate for mayor of Flint, that he was a United States Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War are being questioned by area veterans and appear not to be true. Nor has East Village Magazine been able to verify that he was a brigadier general as he claimed.
Victoria Kueck, director of operations at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a nonprofit organization chartered by Congress, said Meier’s name does not appear in any file or any list of medal of honor recipients. “He is not a Medal of Honor recipient according to any official roster,” she said.
East Village Magazine pursued the information about Meier after a reader saw Meier’s statement of qualifications, wanted to know more, and did not find Meier listed among the Medal of Honor recipients. EVM contacted several veterans, who in turn are conducting their own investigation and referred EVM to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society originally was chartered by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to foster brotherhood among the recipients, maintain archives about them, protect and preserve their memory, provide assistance to needy Medal of Honor recipients and promote patriotism and allegiance to the government and Constitution, according to its website. Kueck said It has a staff of three and is headquartered near Charleston, S.C.
According to the website of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, a branch of the society, “The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. The Medal is generally presented to Recipients by the President of the United States.”
Meier claimed that he received his Medal of Honor from President Richard Nixon in 1973 for actions at An Loc, Vietnam, in May of 1969. In fact, that is the story of Medal of Honor recipient Army Master Sergeant James Leroy Bondsteel of Jackson, MI. Bondsteel had been a Marine in Korea and then joined the Army, serving from 1965 to 1985. Bondsteel died in a freak traffic accident in Alaska in 1987. His Medal of Honor citation is available on numerous online sites.
As of Oct. 17, there are 72 living Medal of Honor recipients, Kueck said, “and we know the names of every one. This gentleman [Meier] is not a Medal of Honor recipient.”
She said “this is not the first time” someone claimed to be have a Medal of Honor and “probably won’t be the last,” but in Meier’s case, “this is a whopper of a story.” She said her office liaises with the authorities in cases where a person claims to be a Medal of Honor recipient but is not — specifically, she said, the FBI.
Some fraudulent claims to have been a Medal of Honor recipient are a felony covered by the “Stolen Valor” Acts of 2005 and 2013, Kueck said — if the perpetrator of the claims has benefitted from them.
In a response to questions from East Village Magazine about his claims, Meier wrote that he had been a “CIA soldier” covertly embedded in Vietnam between 1965 and 1975, starting when he was 15 years old. He said his commanding officer would come into his home in Linden in the middle of the night, “stick a needle in my arm and when I woke up I would be in Vietnam.” He further stated, “I usually wasn’t gone very long at the beginning and my parents hardly missed me and didn’t care. Many times when I came home the CIA would make me submit to electromagnetic convulsive shock therapy so I couldn’t remember anything.”
Asked about the parallels between the Bondsteel story and his own as offered to East Village Magazine, Meier sent the following explanation: “SGT Bondsteel was the platoon leader of the unit that I was assigned to. I was a CIA soldier sent to assist in finding a lost platoon along with Bondsteel’s platoon. Bondsteel was told where to go to link up with that platoon and sent off. After surveying the area I requested permission to recon an old overgrown trench-line because I was fearful that it was an ambush. Sure enough it was an L shaped ambush and when I entered it I encountered encountered the enemy and the rest of the story is written up in SGT Bondsteel’s citation.
“If you replace SGT Bondsteel name with David Meier you will have the truth,” Meier wrote. “The officers in the 1st Infantry Div were not sure that a CIA soldier would be eligible for a Medal of Honor so they wrote up two of them to be sorted out later. The war ended and everything got confusing and they awarded two Medal of Honors for the same action. Sgt Bondsteel was very embarrassed to receive the award because he and all his friends knew that he didn’t do it. He never once claimed that it was his award. I have served in every war that America has been involved in since Vietnam.”
Here is Meier’s statement of qualifications as originally provided to East Village Magazine: “I have lived and worked in Genesee County for the past 63 years with about half of that time in Flint. I have been a Flint resident for the last 7 years and retired from General Motors in 2006. I have faithfully and loyally served my country in Vietnam and every war that America has been in since then. I am a CIA soldier and advisor. President Nixon awarded me the Medal of Honor in 1973 for my actions in An Loc, Vietnam May 24 1969. I have also attained the rank of brigadier general.”
Meier said he would “put up links” that further addressed questions about his background. He is among the candidates scheduled to appear at the first mayoral forum at 5 p.m. Thursday night at the Flint Public Library.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.