The sad, sad story of “Gunny Lauve”

 
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The sad, sad story of “Gunny Lauve”

It started last week, at The American Legion World Series, where George “Gunny Lauve” led the “Sportsmanship Pledge” to the Brooklawn, N.J., and Midland, Mich teams in the winners’ bracket.  An article written in the Shelby Star talked about “Gunny”:

Marine Sergeant Major George “Gunny” Lauve’s sense of humor is sharp as ever.

But when it turns to the subject of his service in World War II and Korea, the 89-year-old Lauve turns more serious and doesn’t want to talk about his service or medals.

“I prefer not to do that because I was lucky,” Lauve said. “I came back. They didn’t.”

…He has been awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest medal for Marine and Navy personnel, and five Purple Hearts.

Lauve fought in the battles at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Wake Island and Saipan during World War II and at Chosen Reservoir in Korea. He was awarded Purple Hearts from each of those battles.

 

George has been a loyal and hardworking Legionnaire for going on 47 years.  But, alas for all of us, he was never a Marine, doesn’t have the Navy Cross, and doesn’t have five purple hearts.  He served in the Navy for a very short period, and is eligible for Membership, but the rest of his story was just that; a story.

Jonn Lilyea was the first to contact me.  He and Doug Sterner and others had apparently been taking a look at “Gunny” for a while, and the article at the Shelby Times gave them the info they needed to know.  Pretty hard to fake a Navy Cross, all of the recipients are listed online.

As soon as TAL became aware of the problem, we started taking action.  We took down Gunny’s story from the website, removed his picture from Facebook, and started doing our research.  In our defense, there didn’t seem anything amiss with the story to the author of our piece.  She was there after all to cover baseball, and had no reason to doubt the story.  When I let her know about the disparity, her response included numerous exclamation and question marks.  Even after I started looking around I had some folks absolutely verifying the claims, and others absolutely telling me the whole thing was bunk.  As I suspected at the time, the truth lay somewhat in the middle: he had served, just not with the valor he proclaimed.

As the investigation continued, I really became impressed with both the Department of Washington Adjutant (“Gunny” is from Washington) and the Post Adjutant and Commander where Gunny served on the executive board.  Both tried to make the best of a particularly bad situation.  As the Department Adjutant said to me in an email from last Thursday:

I’ve found nothing encouraging… to corroborate Gunny’s story.   It doesn’t look good.  

We welcome all honorably discharged wartime veterans into our ranks and allow each post to establish its own standards for verifying service.  Since most Legionnaires are honorable men and women, it is not inherent in their nature to question others. Gunny certainly did talk the talk and no one in his post ever had any reason to question his service. 

I didn’t know he had received the Navy Cross until it was announced by a National officer at the World Series last year.  Like I said, very few of us are so cynical or suspicious that we challenge personal histories, unless they are absurd. 

This is a sad situation.  Gunny has served the Legion well over the past 47 years despite his not having served.  At his current age, he may actually believe his own stories.

 

Gunny doesn’t return to Washington until Friday.  Given the fact that several of us have tried very hard to verify his history and failed, it will be up to him to make his case.  He is a nice gentleman; loved and respected in his community, so they may be reluctant to even pursue this with him. 

  

 For its part, the Post held an emergency meeting, and discovered what we had suspected, Gunny served honorably in the Navy for a short period at the end of WWII, but without the flourishes.

The leadership of Post 10 met with George Lauve this afternoon.  As expected the meeting was extremely emotional and Lauve admitted to "embellishment" of his record.  He was quite repentant and remorseful. 

This post is not intended to further humiliate anyone, but since the story is out there, and The American Legion is involved, we felt it necessary to comment. 

During the entire affair, I spoke repeatedly with Past National Commander Rehbein, who I often turn to when I look for some advice.  Like me, he seemed to find one adjective which best summed up the story: Sad.  At one point there was even squabbling between the Post Adjutant and employees of the post, who still believed in Gunny’s stories.  They’ve subsequently made their peace, but the scars of that argument may be a while in healing.  And that’s what we find with most of these Stolen Valor cases, there’s always victims who aren’t directly connected. 

I haven’t talked to Gunny, nor is there a reason for me to do so.  But, if I had to speculate, I can see how it might have happened.  One bit of hyperbole here, another dash of flair there, and over 47 years the story changes from a short term of service in the Navy to 20+ years in the Marine Corps, with awards and decorations that were awarded only in the minds of the people telling and hearing the stories.  Again, it is all so very sad. 

A comment from “Average NCO” over at This Ain’t Hell seemed to sum it up perfectly for me:

The sad thing is that [the employees innocently and honorably defending George] are not unique. There was the daughter who wrote a book about her father based on his lies. There were the parents who organized lavish homecomings for their war-hero son who was pretending. There were church members who adored their Navy SEAL Pastor only to learn he had been borrowing his fake story from a Steven Segal movie. No matter what that appeals court said, Amy & Susan, along with the others, prove that Stolen Valor is not a victimless crime.

Is this a teachable moment?  I’d like to think so, and sincerely hope that anyone who might be considering augmenting their record would understand it, and that reporters would also spend an extra minute or three to look into it.  In today’s world, you just can’t get away with this stuff.  Too many records are online; too much info is out there for those of us that spend the time to look for it. 

Mere days after George’s story came to light, the “Mountain News” ran a story about an ex-navy SEAL named “Carl.”  The almost 2,000 word article discussed Carl’s service in the black ops, pointing out how he now lived by an assumed name to protect himself.  You can read the entire article at TAH, as it has been taken down at the original site, but as Jonn noted alluding to the movie Tropic Thunder:

Yeah, you need to read the whole article in order to get the “full retard” effect. The reporter must’ve been intending to pull our collective leg, because no one is so gullible that they’d believe some horseshit like this.

Apparently not; it seems he didn’t bother to do even a rudimentary background check. 

And so, Gunny’s fate in The American Legion remains uncertain.  It’s up to the post to decide that, and at Headquarters, we stay out of those fights.  But it should serve as a cautionary tale to everyone to do as President Reagan once advised:  trust, but verify.

 

Posted in the burner | 29 comments
 
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Comments

You hit the nail on the head.....Sad is the word, especially to those that looked up to and admired him.

He nearly made it all of his life living out a fantasy. It is indeed sad.

Someone might suggest that if he will tell the truth, he will still be respected and loved. Yes, so sad.

I am a Marine (19+ years Active Duty), born and raised in Wenatchee, WA and an American Legion Member of Post 10. This is unacceptable. The writer of the above article should not call this disgrace to society "Gunny", as that is a term of endearment reserved for those special few who actually earned the title and grade. This phony excuse for a human would not make a pimple on a good Marines ass, let alone receive any decoration for valor. The American Legion needs to ban him from membership and participation in all Legion activities. He gave a black eye to all Marines who have been awarded the Navy Cross (some after giving their life during the action that the medal was awarded for); he openly disgraced all Marines who have served honorably, the American Legion, The Marine Corps League, and the residents of the Wenatchee Valley. I find it alarming that employees of the post tried to defend this loser, but I'll bet most of them are not Veteran's and can't appreciate the sacrifices Service Members have and continue to make for this country. I hope the leadership of Post 10 acts accordingly, and condemns this degenerate to society. I don't find this story sad at all, I find it disgusting that this idiot slipped through the cracks and claims to be part of America's "Greatest Generation". What a disgrace to all the good the American Legion stands for.

Well I don't blame this guy for telling lies. Its a sad fact that people lie. That being said, its the responsibility of the reporter and the American Legion to do the fact checking before they sign onto any one's story. To me I just dont get it, why lie about your service? I spent 8 years in, was just a mechanic. Nothing more nothing less.
Nothing wrong in doing backround checks on people.

A lot of Post never get the DD214 to even confirm date of service, they take anyone that walks in the door. I was at one post where a fella was comnader of the post more than once and was questioned as to his being a veteran. he refused to show his paper work and no one forced it. State said we didn't need the bad press. Ibet if you looked into it you would find out something a lot of the upper crust would not want anyone to know.
Sad is very true...

Jason, Your comment that "you bet most of our Post 10 members are not Veteran's" is way off the cuff. I can not speak for past Post 10 Adjutant's if they required proof of service and I see you have 11 continous years with our Post, but I do require proof of military service before I process new members as is my responsibilities as Post 10 Adjutant. I have held this position for the past 3 years now. I can not ask our past Adjutant if he required your DD214 as he has went on to Post Everlasting (Gone but not Forgotten) but you should know . Our past records were destroyed when our service hall burned. We will make a decision on the fate of George and I am sure there will be people unhappy no matter what comes out of this. I am not defending his actions at all. He has disgraced the Legion, his family and a lot of other people. He has also served the community well for 47 years but pretending to be something he is not. We will probably lose some members no matter what decision is made. It is easy for people to sit back and express their opinions on the net, but here is a fact, we have over 650 members and at most 20 people show up at our meetings once a month making decisions involving Post operations, volunteering, and staying involved. Since you feel so strong about this how about getting involved and start attending the meetings so you can have your voice heard and be part of the solution.
Ralph Olson
Adjutant/Finance Officer
American Legion Post 10

Gunny may have lied. But he has done more volunteer work for our post than any or all of these whiners put together. I don't like that he lied but he has steped up and done a lot of work in/for this club. Until someone steps up and does the work he did they should keep quiet.

While I agree that George did a whole lot of volunteer work in a great organization that helps a lot of veterans & their families, and I agree that more people need to step up, that doex NOT negate that his act of stolen valor is a BETRAYAL to all those who validly earned their valor, many with their own lives. I am so glad that my Dad is not around to see this. He respected George & considered him a friend. But Dad would have been absolutely crushed by this kind of a BETRAYAL. I've heard Dad voice his opinion of those who do this sort of thing, so I know that he would have been devastated that someone that he trusted & respected would be someone who would do this. I know why Ralph needed a copy of Dad's DD214 after he died - it was official post business. But now I am questioning - "Why did George need a copy of it? And why did he want Dad's service medals & patches?" Gunny, you "honored" my Dad at his funeral, but now my heart is breaking, because you have betrayed my Dad and mamy others who trusted & respected you."

As an officer of Post 10, Wenatchee, Wa. I need to say a few words. First off, the Post will do what is allowed by the Legion by-laws. What George did was not right and we all know that. There is a lot of hurt going on. We do check the information on the DD-214s from prospective members. When there are Legion meetings we need to have constructive input, not just those who are ticked off at this, We all are. 20 Legioinairs making descisions for 650+ members has been a real chore. This will be handled according to the Legion by-laws.
As Adjutant/Finance Officer Ralph Olson stated, and I fully agree, show up at our regulsr meetings.
We will get through this, but it will take time and work.
Fred Willsey
1st Vice Commander
Ameriacn Legion Post 10

Actually Jason's comment was only saying "post employees" who may have defended George are likely not veterans. He was not implying that post members were not veterans. I admire and respect both Ralph and Jason and all the emotions of this situation are causing misunderstandings.

Jason and Ralph, you are both among my closest friends. Jason is still on active duty and not in the area but when he retires if he is in the Wenatchee Valley you can bet he will be at every Post meeting. And he has come by the post many times when he is home on leave.

We need to remember Veterans - we're still that Band of Brothers (and Sisters)!!!!!!

Ken Manke
Post Historian
American Legion Post 10

Ken
Thanks for the clarification to Jason's post.
Jason, I made an error in understanding your note and agree that our employee's are not veterans. They do not verify a members service, they verify the member is paid up for the year, so if the Post Adjutant processed a membership before verifying the applicatant served that person would not be questioned unless there were reasons to investigate, as per George Lauve case.
I thank you for your membership and support for our Post and look forward to seeing you when you return to our area. Your comments are well recieved.
Ralph Olson
Adjutant/Finance Officer
Legion Post 10

With due respect to the Legion, we seem to be reaping consequences of a "hands off" policy from national and department levels when it comes to what takes place in Post affairs. Not having a national policy requiring a DD214 to qualify for basic membership seems rather odd for any service organization. Even Vietnam Veterans of America requires a copy before granting inclusion. And, what is more, I am certain that if pressed just a little bit, there are several thousand Legionnaires who could recite chapter and verse MANY other instances in which the "hands off" policy has resulted in what amounts to high echelons abrogating their responsibility to lead and set standards of conduct. Seaman Lauve stepped over a line, but there was no sentry and no protocol other than "whatever works for you."

This is a disgrace as much for the Legion as it is a personal tragedy for Lauve.

That's not really true in this case.  We do in fact have his DD214, and he is eligible for membership.  What we don't do is compare stories told to the information in DD214's and 2-1 files.  When anyone runs for higher office in the Legion, there is a second check on the DD214's by higher echelons, but Lauve never ran for anything.

Actually, George was Honorably Discharged from the Navy on Sept 10, 1945. I have seen the form attesting to that, it is called a NavPers 553 (Rev 7-44) Notice of Separation from the U.S. Naval Service. He did not get a DD-214. After serving on active duty for more than the Legion required one day, and being in the "zone" which ended Dec 31, 1946, he was absolutely eligible for membership, as MOTHAX said. Pending the official meeting to decide his ultimate fate with the Post, he has been suspended by the Post leadership as facts are gathered.

Rich C.
Junior Past Commander, Post 10, Wenatchee WA.

Considering he asked for & was given a copy of my Dad's DD214, (under the guise of pist business) if you DO get one frim him, you might want to verify the legitimacy if it. At this point, I would not put it past him to falsify documents.

......that would be a typo.... should be "post" business, not "pist" business, although that very well may have been a freudian slip.

God has convicted me that my bitterness in this situation is a terrible sin. I apologize profusely to anyone that my comments have hurt, and most especially to Gunny. Nobody is beyond forgiveness and reconciliation and the fact that Gunny admitted his wrongs when confronted by the Post 10 officials should have been enough for me too. Gunny, you are a wonderful man & have done a lot for the post & the community & your friends & I commend you for that. God bless you & love you & may he restore you.

Hello, I am a new member and ya-all checked my dd214. I knew this man, I am sad that his stories are fabricated, we all need heroes and I think that why his story went on for so long; unchallenged. Lets look at this as a learning experience. We need to look at dd214's again. I will be willing to help. I was talking to a guy just the other day at the post, he was trying to tell me he was "black ops" etc... Honestly I just walked away when I asked for documents and his answer was "my missions were never documented" Really, I was a low level player in one of those missions and I was given the AFEM for it! I met one SEAL when I was in the navy and 1000's since I got out..... Prove it is my motto!

Thank you all for your comments. I am taking this opportunity to state that the Officers of Post 10 will not issue a statement on this site or the Burn Pit what decisions are made by the E-Board on this case (as much as people would like to know) . I feel it should be up to Geroge Lauve to share his comments if he chooses. It is not the Policy of the American Legion to publicly announce administered discipline to any member, past or present.
Ralph Olson
Adjutant/Finance Officer
American Legion Post 10

I don't belive this bullshit! I knew gunny and I still know gunny. He is one of my favorite people to hang out with. And you once a marine always a marine! Gunny had marine hats, coats, shirts, and a flag he hung everyday next to an american flag. The real question is why f* with a 90 year old man. You f*rs have nothing else in life to do excecpt f* someone elses. Gunny has a bigger heart than this entire world put together and if anyone knew gunny they would agree.
.P.S. nice marine uniform he has in the picture

The reality is that we didn't do this to him.  None of us made up his story of 5 purple hearts, a Navy Cross, several Silver Stars.  The reality is he earned none of those awards.  Yes, it is a nice uniform, but it is not one he earned.  He was in the Navy, did not deploy, did not see combat.  I'm sorry you feel as you do, but when someone tries to take the valor that was earned by my brothers and sisters in arms, I can't just sit there idly and watch it happen without comment.  No one has said anything bad about his many charitable acts, but his lying can simply not go without challenge.

Danny, he may indeed have a lot of Marine Corp things. I understand that his father was a Marine, and one of his sons, too. When my Father died, he asked for a copy of my Father's DD214. He also asked for my Father's Marine Corp medals & patches. So those are a few places those things came from. Who knows where else he might have gotten them..... and collectors buy & sell those things every day. Just sayin...

As a Combat Marine Wounded in action in Vietnam and Past Florida State Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart this is just another wannabe. I spent many hours tracking some of these idiots and found that most people that didn't serve really don't care in fact even though it is now against the law the people that should care don't. I exposed over 20 people who had done things like saying they were Navy Seals to 9 Purple Hearts with a Navy Cross and really all it did was tick me off because nobody will do anything about these wannabes. One case in Naples Florida I found an idiot wearing a Special Forces Uniform with 26 medals and awards and watched him get into a vehicle with an XPOW Plate and ran a record check on him and found he had never left the Country. I had to file charges against him before anything was done, the great thing was he violated his probation 2 or 3 times and he is now serving 3 years in prison. This took well over a year to do so all I can say is to all of you that served this Country is don't waste your time more fakes than you can ,imagine. Just look at our current leader, need I say more!!!!
Semper Fi!

Jay R Jones USMCRET

wow what a liar

This is to Danny, you sound like you are a social member(I know they are illeagle but they are many) as far as the AL in your words Fing with this man, he brought all this and more on him self. I don't care if he is close to 90 he started his lies over 40 years before. Shame on you and shame on him.

This man has owned up to his misrepresentations. Leave him alone in his shame and forgive him. He will live with this the rest of his life. "To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness." Those are the words in the The American Legion Preamble. Now is the time to forgive not a time to shun.

Last night, my name was added to the roster of Post 10 last night. I have never met George but I met a lot of his friends last night. Any way that you cut it, it sounds like he is a heck of a guy that made a big mistake. I am still undecided on where I stand on this issue because I have not heard George speak.

If you want a say in next part of the story then you have to be a Vet. Show your DD214 and become a member of Post 10. I will be your sponsor. If you are a member then show up. If you stood up and made a difference once then you can stand up and make a difference again.

Like many of you, Gunny is a personal friend of mine. My father was killed in Vietnam and Gunny encouraged me to join the Legion and to get involved. He encouraged me to start speaking on my fathers behalf and I did. Gunny was by my side as I addressed Wenatchee High School and spoke at the traveling wall in Leavenworth, Wa about my fathers story. Gunny is at every single football game representing the US and teaching young kids to stand tall and remove their caps as the flag passes. Gunny holds the flag at every single parade, junior high and high school event, Veterans Day Assemblies and has served at more funerals than I can even count. I visit Gunny and I honestly believe that he believes he is telling the truth. I have never heard Gunny brag about anything he has done in the service. I honestly have chosen not to read any of this up until today. My father was an Air Force Captain but killed on a Marine base and I understand the importance of truth telling and representation of being who you say you are but I also know that Gunny is good people and they are hard to find in this day and age. He has volunteered more than anyone I know in this Wenatchee valley. Gunny has helped me through my grief and for that I will be forever grateful.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.