Andre Vergara; another sullied record

| August 19, 2012

Here’s the photo that someone sent us (I can’t find the email, so I’m sorry that I can’t remember who it was) of Andres Vergara as he saluted during a ceremony at Arlington Cemetery last month at a service commemorating the armistice signing for the Korean War;

The Military Times ran a cropped photo with this narrative;

So, it was the four combat parachute jumps that caught my attention. There were four combat jumps during the Korean War and they were conducted by 187th Airborne Combat Team. Not by the 79th Army Band;

Try as I might, I couldn’t find a Korean Medal of Honor. I did, however, find Vergara’s Bronze Star medal citation, but it doesn’t mention saving any Korean orphans, strangely enough;

And, oh, by the way, those Master Sergeant stripes he’s wearing? NPRC says he retired as a Specialist 7, not an E-8;

Even more awards here;

I think he must’ve earned the CIB in Vietnam, since I see he was in an infantry battalion in the 82d during those years, but I don’t see where he attended jump school, and there are no jump wings in his records, so I guess we’ll give him that one, for now. I also see that he earned another Bronze Star for Merit in Vietnam as an interrogator. His 2-1 cuts off during the Vietnam War, so I’ll just give him stuff like the CIB, but all of that Korean War stuff is bogus, unless being a tuba player in the band means something different now than it did then.

 

Category: Phony soldiers

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Joshua

Whoa, when did POWNetwork change its name?

Jack

Maybe someone should contact this man and talk to him before bashing his military career. I have little faith in Army “records”.

Old Soldier

There’s a lot of things that stink about this guy, but don’t forget the prior to the instition of the “Supergrades” in the late ’50s – and E-7 WAS a MSG…

Green Thumb

Maybe they could put a wreath around the tuba as some type of combat band scarab badge….

CIB = “Combat Instrument(s, al) Badge”.

Not as far fetched if you think about it..We do have the CAB.

Ex-PH2

Y’know, if you tell yourself a story about what you did for a long enough time, you believe it actually happened.

John Robert Mallernee

Comrades in Arms: I wouldn’t be in such a big hurry to throw stones at this guy. When I was living in Washington, D.C., at the Ol’ Soldiers’ Home (the one you Army guys contributed to from your paychecks and your Article XV fines), we were honored by the Korean Embassy, and I mean, the Koreans went ALL out in demonstrating their appreciation! The Korean combat veterans were given trips to Korea, and they were awarded medals from the Korean government. Since my father is deceased, I bought one of those Korean ribbons to put with his other medals in the display case mounted on the wall of my room. Also, my father was a Master Sergeant, and when I received the package with his awards, it included Sergeant First Class stripes. So, I asked the other guys why there were no Master Sergeant stripes, and they explained to me about the change in rank and pay grade way back in the early ‘Sixties (my father retired in 1962). Accordingly, since I’d only ever seen him wear Master Sergeant stripes, I bought a set to put in that display case. Now, as for that guy being in the band – – – , My Form 20 indicates I was in the 101st Airborne BAND, but of course I never was. Someone told me they only did that for purposes of transferring me from Viet Nam to the United States. Also, for that same time period, I was issued a unit… Read more »

Anonymous

POST SCRIPT:

As I understand it, the Army did away with ALL of the Specialist ranks above Specialist Four, and those who ranked above Specialist Four became Sergeants.

When I transferred from the Signal Corps into the Cavalry, I was told to remove my Specialist Five rank and begin wearing Sergeant stripes.

Maybe this guy was in a similar situation.

As for jump wings, maybe he went to jump school in Viet Nam, because a lot of guys did.

I’m not certain, but I think the 82d kept all their people on jump status.

I don’t know what he did, or how old he was when he went to Viet Nam, but his situation reminds me of something I witnessed when I first arrived in country.

A group of us were being processed, and sitting in a building with some guy talking to us.

A guy in the audience, an old sergeant, was begging to be reassigned, for he was old and nearing retirement, and he didn’t think he could take being in an infantry unit.

Well, the guy in charge reminded him (and everybody else) that no matter what his age, or how close he was to retirement, he was still in the Army and he was going to go where he was ordered to go.

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

Mike

From what I’ve read, you COULD have been in the brigade of the 82nd Airborne that was rotated into Vietnam AND have been a “leg” too. The replacements after the ORIGINAL paratroopers started leaving were not neccesarily airborne qualified. [the same happened to the 101st in VN I believe]

SFC Holland

Mr. Mallernee, Thank you for your comments. I am reserving judgment on this veteran until further information is made available.

Green Thumb

@7.

If I am not mistaken, it seems that I read or heard somewhere along the line that in a time of war(US Army)the band actually is tasked (technically speaking) with guarding enemy POW’s?

Curious if that is correct.

Comments?

Anonymous

GREEN THUMB:

I’ve never heard of that, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

John Robert Mallernee
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

John Robert Mallernee

I don’t know what they did in the 82d when Andre Vergara was in Viet Nam, but in the 101st Airborne, regardless of your MOS, assignment, or how long you’d already been in Viet Nam, EVERY trooper had to complete the Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School (i.e., “S.E.R.T.S.”, also known as “P” training), and our graduation exercise was a helicopter assault on an enemy position.

That training wasn’t all phony balogna either, for we took sniper fire while doing our patrol, and in a class following mine, a bunch of guys were killed when Charlie boobytrapped the bleachers.

Also, EVERY trooper in the 101st, regardless of MOS or assignment (except for cooks), had to pull perimeter guard duty (in my unit, it was every other night), and had to do patrols outside the perimeter, which was how I obtained my genuine, certified war trophy, a rusty steel punji stake from a booby trap, which is now displayed on the wall of my room, along with the certificate signed by my company commander.

And, on guard duty, there was action, for sappers got caught in our wire and we had a firefight, with green tracers coming straight at ME!

Also, we would get hit with rockets and/or mortars, and I saw three guys on a nearby bunker get killed in a mortar blast.

Hondo

JRM: the guy’s 2-1 shows virtually continuous assignments to band units from 1950 to 1960, both overseas (Pacific, Europe) and in CONUS. I think it’s probably a good bet that his primary duties were as a musician in a band throughout that period of time.

I’m pretty sure if he’d been assigned to the 187th RCT in Korea his 2-1 would have shown that. And he’d have to have been assigned to that unit to make ANY combat jumps in Korea – much less 4 out of 4.

I think the guy has probably now convinced himself that he did things he never actually did. If he’s got even a mild case of age-related dementia (he’s 90), that’s entirely plausible.

James. E.Guillow

Damn give it a break fellows you should know that Military records are like “maybe” the information is there and “maybe” not. Don’t beleive your own records mite have mistakes and errors Its not like he is using his military record to write a book or movie or even run for office. Unless you can be 100% sure the information you received is right don’t throw shit

Anonymous

This is why I hate this website. Maybe someone should have asked this guy before berating him. John Lilyea the guy who runs this website ostracizes everybody else’s records because you know he was hardcore in the “shit” in desert storm for all “72” hours and if you do not agree with his political views you are wrong. Why don’t you do some due diligence before writing an article. This website does put a lot of phonies in their place but guys like this seriously who cares. The guy probably is so old and has dementia.

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SGT Ted

@ 11 Green Thumb,

Band units secondary mission is Military Police.

AbnGramps82

@20 SGT Ted. Not any more. Bands are there to enhance the “morale and esprit de corps of the Soldiers”. I was fortunate enough to have that job for almost 25 years. i look back fondly on my time and will continue to know I was in the band. Nothing fancy, but I did my job and along the way met some real bad asses. The closest I got to being kind of a bad ass was making it through Jumpmaster School in 2004. (It only took two times). I will never pretend that my job was even close to being as tough as any line Soldier. Vergara probably has told his stories for so long and so often that he thinks it was for real. What a shame, he actually had a good career.

Piglet

John wrote: “I’m not certain, but I think the 82d kept all their people on jump status.”

That was the goal, but when the 3d Brigade of the 82d Airborne Division was alerted to go to Vietnam following the Tet Offensive, it was discovered that a large percentage of those in the brigade had not been out of Vietnam for long and were not required to return if they did not wish to go. Those who didn’t want to deploy (about two-thirds of the brigade) were reassigned to other units and the empty positions were back-filled with personnel from other units in the Third Army area. This resulted in the brigade largely becoming a light infantry unit because it no longer had that many soldiers who were jump-qualified.

Back to Vergara: The unit crest on his beret insignia is not that of the 187th Infantry, but instead is the 65th Infantry, which was a Puerto Rican regiment assigned to the 3d Infantry Division in Korea. Later it was reallocated to the PR Army National Guard. I haven’t seen his record but it may be yet another unit in which he’s claiming service.

Moral of the story: Just because someone is old doesn’t mean they can’t fake aspects of their military service, assuming someone did, in fact, serve in the military. People tend to take old guy tales at face value despite evidence to the contrary, and the fakes take great advantage of this tendency.

SFC Rowe

Here is what I don’t understand… why are these old timers that fake their service or whatever wearing the new blues??? Shouldn’t they be wearing the khaki uniform or the greens from back in the day when they served? They shouldn’t be wearing the new uniform if they aren’t currently serving. There is too much that has changed since their time. I know for a fact that there weren’t any black berets like that when he served in the band either.

Don Pfeifer

I would not get too hung up on the Korean use of the term, “Medal of Honor”. The Koreans do not have a medal system like the U.S., but uses a system of “Orders” similar to the ones used in Europe. In the Korean hierarchy of awards, the Orders are followed by “Medals of Merit” (which is commonly translated as “Medals of Honor”) which is followed by Commendations (both Presidential and Prime Minister) and at the bottom rung you have the Misc. Medals which includes wound medals, war participation medals, etc.
The cravat mounted “Medal of Honor” given to Msg Andres Vergara by the Koreans falls into this last group. It is issued by the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) and is given to any Korean War Veteran who comes to their attention. Starting in 1975, the Koreans started the “Korea Revisit Program” by which they help Korean War Veterans and/or their families return to Korea. All expenses in Korea are paid for by the KVA. Tours are arranged around the interests and needs of the veterans on each tour. During this tour, there is a lavish dinner ceremony in which the veterans are honored and presented with either the “Ambassador of Peace” medal, the Korean “Medal of Merit” or the Korean “Medal of Honor”. To the Koreans, every Korean War Veteran deserves the Korean “Medal of Honor”. Please do not equate the Korean “Medal of Honor” with the U.S. “Medal of Honor”.

Lynnsey

My name is Lynnsey Cox and Andres “Andy” Vergara is my stepdad. I’ve grown up reading many of your articles in the American Legion Burn Pit. In all the years I’ve read the burn pit I never dreamed you would one day write and article completely tearing apart Andy’s service record. Although I do not agree with some aspects you have written, I respect you’re right to freedom of speech and respect you for uncovering the endless counts of impostors as well as for serving our country. If you feel passionate about your article and do not wish to take it down or get some of the facts directly from him or some of his previous brothers in arms, I ask one thing from you. Could you please correct his first name? His first name is not Andre it is Andres.

zardac

He knows how to jump out of a plane.

” Sky-watching spectators began pointing at a blue chute and paratrooper dangling a Puerto Rican flag. US Army veteran Andre Vergara, 82, was the only veteran paratrooper jumping to have fought Nazis.”

http://www.militaria.cz/cz/detail-506