EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Too many veterans have earned medals for bravery on the battlefield but haven’t received them many didn’t even know they had earned them.
Now someone is compiling a database of every military member and his hard work is leading to some big surprises.
In this week’s Veterans’ Voices valor and heroism need to be recognized and now there’s a new way for veterans to get the hardware they’ve earned.
Army veteran Mark Deville decided to Google himself at the urging of a co-worker. It’s a good thing he did. He found a huge surprise.
“It came up the recipient of the silver star and I said, ‘well, that’s not me.’ and he said, ‘no, go ahead and read it.’ so, I read it and I was like, ‘wow, that is me,” Deville said.
Turns out he had earned one of the highest honors for valor in combat and never even knew it. And he might never have known it if it weren’t for this man.
Doug Sterner has made it his life’s mission to make sure our heroes get the recognition they deserve.
He spends as much as 16 hours a day compiling a database on a website called “home of heroes”. So far, he’s documented some 275,000 recipients of the nation’s highest military honors.
For more than two decades he’s combed through thousands of files, folders, and documents tracking down what he calls forgotten valor.
Turns out Mark Deville was in a firefight in 1984 at the D.M.Z. When a Russian man tried to defect across the border. Deville helped save that defector’s life, earning him the silver star, the third-highest award for valor.
No one in his unit could locate Deville but a Google search did the trick.
Sterner says many military records have been damaged or destroyed over the years but he’s been able to locate duplicate records and comb through the national archives to connect the dots.
Sterner estimates there are still 150-thousand names that need to be added to his database. To search his records for the name of a loved one, head to the Home of Heroes website.