updated 12/2/2003 4:30:16 AM ET 2003-12-02T09:30:16

A Vietnam veteran who exposed more than 1,200 people trying to capitalize on bogus or inflated Vietnam war records has been saluted with a military honor.

B.G. “JUG” BURKETT received the Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award on Monday from former President George H.W. Bush at the Bush Library in College Station.

“He exposed a mass distortion of history that cost taxpayers billions of dollars” in undeserved veterans benefits, said John W. Nicholson, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “He returned to the Vietnam veterans their good name.”

Burkett’s mission began in 1986 with his efforts to raise funds for the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Dallas. Many people refused to donate, Burkett said, because they believed they would be helping drug-abusing psychopaths with no desire to work or contribute to society.

Burkett started his own research to find out who fought in Vietnam and to debunk some of the myths about Vietnam veterans. Through the work, he exposed more than 1,200 people, including politicians and entertainers, who lied about or exaggerated their claims of serving in the Vietnam War.

“I’m a little overwhelmed because none of what I’ve done exceeded just doing my duty,” said Burkett, a financial adviser who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s.

Burkett said he’s happy to receive the Army’s award because it will help bring the right type of attention to his comrades.

“It brings the focus back to the message,” he said. “And the message basically is that the people who served in Vietnam are the finest troops we ever produced.”

Not all his research has to do with exposing fake veterans. In a 1998 book, “Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History,” Burkett and co-author Glenna Whitley challenged the belief that young and poor minority draftees fought and died in higher numbers in Vietnam. They found that 75 percent of those killed were volunteers, not draftees.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments