The following is being released by The OSS Society:
At a ceremony held at the White House yesterday, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, to rectify past discrimination. We believe strongly that Fred Mayer, the real “inglourious basterd,” who was nominated for the Medal of Honor in September 1945 after leading one of the most daring and dangerous missions behind German lines for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II predecessor to the CIA and the US Special Operations Command, deserved to receive the 25th Medal of Honor yesterday.
In nominating him for the Medal of Honor in September 1945, Mayer’s commanding officer wrote that he “knowingly and willingly risked his life almost daily” during more than two months behind enemy lines. Impersonating a Nazi officer, Mayer gained vital intelligence for the United States, including the location and dimensions of Hitler’s bunker. After obtaining valuable intelligence about Nazi troop movements into Northern Italy and supplying the Army Air Corps with information that enabled it to bomb the Brenner Pass and destroy 26 German trains, he was captured by the Gestapo and brutally tortured for three days. Mayer gave them nothing. After being tortured, he convinced a top Nazi to surrender Innsbruck, Austria, to the advancing Allied forces. Mayer crossed German and American lines in a combat zone at great risk to his life to inform the Americans of the surrender. His action saved thousands of lives on both sides.
In a letter sent to President Obama yesterday, The OSS Society highlighted the fact that the Army rejected the Medal of Honor nomination and a subsequent nomination for the Distinguished Service Cross despite the fact that other members of the OSS received the Distinguished Service Cross for lesser acts of bravery. The Army also denied a request from Senator Rockefeller last year to award Mayer the Medal of Honor by claiming that the “evidence presented does not demonstrate the existence of a probable error or injustice.” We strongly disagree with this conclusion.
Regardless of whether Mayer’s Jewish background was a factor in the Army’s decision, his actions alone merited the Medal of Honor as his commanding officer recognized when he nominated him for it. Had Mayer received the Distinguished Service Cross as the Awards and Decorations Board and his commander recommended, he would have been considered for the Medal of Honor yesterday.