70 years later

557 - Wintersville , OH

After reading in The American Legion Magazine about the quest for an upgrade from Silver Star to Medal of Honor for Royce Williams, and the letter from David M. Hill about Capt. Larry Taylor, I would like to express my quest to upgrade a Silver Star awarded to Fred McGee for his courageous actions near Tang-Wan-Ni, Korea, on 16 June 1952. His daughter, Victoria, for the last 40 years has tried in vain to have the military review his record. I got involved a few years ago after reading his citation, battle reports, eyewitness statements and regimental battle reports. I believe he was deprived of the MOH. I wrote to several people in the chain of command and Rep. Bill Johnson, 6th District, Ohio. I pointed out several facts in battle reports not noted or referenced in his citation. Rep. Johnson joined in the task to bring justice to Fred.
Even though President Truman desegregated the military in 1948, it was practice for years after. The reason I became involved: I found on line 18 on DA form 639, dated 18 July 1953, titled "Other U.S. Decorations awarded recommended person," someone typed in Race-Neg. Why? To alert others he was Black?
I am happy to report that Rep. Johnson's office advised me on Veterans Day that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin asked Congress to waive the five-year policy for review regarding the MOH. They did, and now the paperwork is in the White House for review.
McGee's heroics were told in "Heroic Comics #81," March 1953. Unfortunately, he was portrayed as white.
He was a member of American Legion Post 396, Smithfield, Ohio, Fred passed two years ago and is buried in the cemetery located behind the post.

Thank you,
Barry Bardone, USAF '65-'69
Post 557, Wintersville, Ohio

PS: My complete file on Fred includes all of his records and two eyewitness accounts for the MOH. The more I delved into his life the more I admired him as a man, hero and community leader.

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