vendredi 14 mars 2008

Vadney’s distinguished military career

Let me start by saying that I believe that nobody should be a prisoner of their background. If you have the misfortune, like Harold William Vadney III, to have been born into a trailer-trash family, then it is not only understandable but also commendable to try to rise above your humble beginnings through talent and hard work.

Of course, if you have no talent, there’s always the military. Not only is the military chronically short of new recruits—so they’ll accept just about anybody—but it also offers its employees dumbed-down “college-level” courses, so that even people whose prospects are so dim that they need to join the military in the first place can hope to exit with a degree. So it must have looked like the natural career choice for the young Harold William Vadney III. In a way, it’s a wonder he didn’t think of it earlier, but then again, perhaps not.

Of course, there is a minor disadvantage to a military career: you may be posted to a war zone, where other soldiers, wearing different-coloured uniforms, may actually shoot at you and otherwise try to kill you. At the time, the US was engaged in an undeclared war in South-East Asia; so the risk was more than theoretical. But somehow, young Harold managed to swing it so he got posted to the war zone of the past, Europe, and never had to face the unpleasantness of physical danger.

So far, so good. But now have a look at Vadney’s military record, kindly supplied by Mr Scott Horne. It seems young Harold left the military in something of a hurry. He didn’t wait to finish his degree, and, surprisingly, he was discharged while still in Germany. And if we look at page 3 of the PDF file, on the last non-blank line (about 12 lines down the page), we see that something has been blacked out before the word “discharge” (by the military, not by either me or my colleague). Normally, you’d expect the word “honorable” to appear there, and the blacked-out section is the right length for that. Could it be that the brass were going to give Vadney an honourable discharge, but thought better of it?

Then there’s the question of the Vadney’s rank. On the covering document (page 2 of the PDF file), it is given as “Specialist 4 / E4” (E4 corresponds to Corporal), but shortly before being discharged, he seems to have made it to “TRANSLATOR / INTPR (E6)” (E6=Staff Sergeant). So why does the covering document (p. 2) give his rank as E4? Why did he apparently not even get an honourable discharge? Why did he leave so abruptly? And why does he never mention this highly relevant “professional” experience on his CVs? (See for example this one, taken from his profile before he became such a liability that they had to kick him off.) Could it be that Vadney got into some kind of trouble, and was demoted and bundled out?

We note from the covering letter to Mr Horne that the records provided to him constitute all information “releaseable” under Freedom of Information legislation, and that the Vadney’s permission is required for further details. In view of the Vadney’s oft-stated commitment to openness, and the obvious pride (and understandable pride too, when you consider his subsequent career) with which he regards his military career and his “Big Red One” (the question he never answers is: big red what?), we are sure that the relevant permission will be forthcoming. And pigs might fly.

3 commentaires:

Scott Horne a dit…

Thanks, Richard. Excellent analysis. As you said, those records are public information. I call upon Mr Vadney to give us his written permission to find out more about his medals (including one that, according to the Times Union, was revoked), his discharge, and the curious change in rank that looks suspiciously like a demotion.

Mr Vadney keeps boasting of his military career and heaping scorn upon "draft-dodgers". Yet was he not a draft-dodger himself? As you pointed out, the US was running a draft at the time that Mr Vadney enlisted for the lofty post of clerk typist in Germany, far from the action in Southeast Asia. The greatest danger to life or limb that Mr Vadney faced in his sinecure was getting his necktie caught in the platen of his typewriter. If our valiant little GI Joe is so gung ho about serving Uncle Sam in his military adventures, why did he go to Germany, thousands of kilometres from any action? Perhaps because enlisting was a good way to keep one's own ass from being sent to Southeast Asia, where the Vietnamese, to their eternal glory, were busy defeating the US and driving the Yankee invaders the hell out.

That reminds me of another chicken-hawk, though of vastly higher station than GI Vadney, who wormed his way into a sinecure in the Texas National Guard only to desert his post. Currently he lives in a certain white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Scott Horne a dit…

Brilliant journalist Scott Waldman claimed to have evidence that an Army Commendation Medal awarded to Mr Vadney (rank E4, just above private first class) was revoked, and of course we all believe him. It will be interesting to hear more details. Perhaps Mr Waldman will do another brilliant exposé. Or Mr Vadney (E4) could send me a signed release so that I can obtain the details myself.

Mr Vadney (E4) used to gloat of an "oak-leaf cluster" allegedly awarded with his putative Army Commendation Medal. An oak-leaf cluster indicates that the medal with which it is associated was awarded more than once. The information sent to me says nothing about an oak-leaf cluster. Could it be that said cluster, if ever conferred, was revoked?

It is well known that the US army distributes medals like confetti. Every warm body in the army ends up with a few of them. Let us examine those that Mr Vadney (E4) supposedly received--aside from the questioned Army Commendation Medal.

First is the National Defense Service Medal, a bit of nothing that is simply awarded to everyone who is in the US military during one of the US's numerous wars of aggression. Covering no fewer than 33 of the 59 years since its creation, this bottom-of-the-barrel medal is no rarer than it is meaningful. Note too that Mr Vadney (E4) was about as far as he could have been from the scene of the fighting.

The Good Conduct Medal has been aptly described as the military counterpart of a gold star dispensed in kindergarten for colouring within the lines. It is awarded for managing not to get into big trouble for three years straight. During a war, that period is reduced to one year. So Mr Vadney (E4) may have received it for a mere year of staying more or less out of trouble.

Last of all is the Expert Badge M-16 Rifle and Grenade Bar. Despite its name, this badge represents no great degree of expertise: a friend of mine earned one without even completing basic training.

We see from this record that Mr Vadney (E4) spent his four years shuffling papers in a run-of-the-mill shit-kicker rôle. He appears to have been at rank E6 in January 1976 but to have been discharged at rank E4 a year later. That sounds like a demotion to me. What motivated this apparent change of status? What was the reason for the discharge—and was that discharge honourable or otherwise? Mr Waldman might be able to find out. He managed to obtain more information on Mr Vadney's (E4) military record than I did.

Scott Horne a dit…

One other note:

Why did Mr Vadney (E4) need six months to come up with his alleged medals? If they were that precious to him, surely he kept them. Why didn't he simply show them to Mr Waldman?

Why has he not produced any evidence of them--just a lot of additional claims, but not the medals themselves (the images on his defamatory blog were apparently taken from another site) or a copy of the letter that allegedly confirms them?

I, in Canada, was able to obtain Mr Vadney's military record in less than two weeks by simply faxing a form to St Louis. Why did Mr Vadney need months and months, as he has said himself? After all, he was able to supply more details about himself than I was.

My money is on more scheming behind the scenes--like all the scheming that he did over the years to get ProZ to suppress true information about his business practices. (ProZ must feel awfully stupid now that Mr Vadney [E4] has been exposed in the region's most important newspaper. ProZ did ban Mr Vadney [E4] the very day that that article came out--though for CYA reasons, in typical ProZac style.)