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Vietnam veteran's paperwork for Silver Star questioned

DES MOINES, Iowa — Some military groups are questioning whether a Vietnam veteran from Iowa earned a Silver Star presented to him in a June ceremony.

A staff member of Sen. Tom Harkin's office pinned the medal, given for courageous behavior while in action, on Dennis William Myers' jacket at the Iowa Veterans Home, The Des Moines Register reported. Two military groups say the 64-year-old from Marshalltown duped the senator's office in providing what they claim was a fake certificate to receive the medal.

Jerry Newberry, of the national Veterans of Foreign Wars, reviewed the paperwork and said it was "definitely bogus" and "not even close to the real thing."

Myers denies the claims over the document he submitted and said the paperwork came from a private California business that issues certificates. According to the company's website, Myers' type of certification can be bought for under $10.

A message left with a spokeswoman for the senator's office wasn't returned Wednesday.

Military records from the National Personnel Records Center show Myers was on active duty in the Navy from 1968 to 1972.

Doug Sterner, curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, oversees a database of military honors from the U.S. Armed Services and requests verification before adding information to it. He said he contacted the senator's office after the ceremony.

After noticing the certificate was unsigned, Sterner said he began to raise questions about the story Myers recounted at the ceremony. He analyzed a Marshalltown newspaper article and learned that a 1971 Marine's death that Myers spoke about couldn't be found in records from the U.S. Marine Corps or Vietnam War Memorial.

Myers said the article misspelled the Marine's last name, but Sterner said the closest name that could be found was for a man who died two years before the mission Myers described in the ceremony.

Myers said, "Everybody can call me a liar and all that stuff but, hey, I know. I was there."

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