WE THOUGHT WE HAD SEEN BUREAUCRATIC INSANITY AND THEN WE GOT THIS…
By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor
Wounded Navy World War 2 veteran, Thomas L. Upchurch, has been told by Mr. Rodney Wilkerson, Assistant Veterans Award Coordinator, assigned to the Pentagon, that he doesn’t deserve a Purple Heart for his wounds received when his ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine.
“a veteran must be injured as a direct result of the enemy action….indirect injury does not meet the conditions under which the Purple Heart may be awarded..”
By the standards Wilkerson is applying, the Americans who died on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941 were victims of a “boating mishap.”
If, let’s say, a soldier serving in Afghanistan’s Humvee is hit by an RPG. A chunk of armor plating, an “indirect” result of the enemy attack, passes through our soldiers skull. Did he die of a “slip and fall” incident? Is this kind of bureaucratic insanity why so many of our best are leaving the military?
We already have hundreds, maybe thousands of our troops, severe head wounds from “indirect action” who have been diagnosed with “preexisting psychiatric or character disorders.” We are sick of it. Enough is enough, Mr. Rodney Wilkerson!
THE TOM UPCHURCH STORY
On March 22, 1945 the S.S. Charles D. McIver was torpedoed as it left the Holland Ship Canal. The war with Germany was in its closing weeks. Thousands of Americans had been sent to a watery grave, Navy, Merchant Marine, Army Air Force and troops whose transports had been sunk. The numbers lost to enemy action at sea, particularly German submarines will never be made public. This day in 1945, Tom Upchurch was serving on the McIver.
When the ship exploded, a bunk broke loose and rammed into Upchurch. He suffered head and back injuries and burns from fires on the ship. War records, below, initially list the McIver as victim of a German mine. This the day’s action report, March 22, 1945, off the coast of Belgium:
*German submarines attack Wales-bound convoy TBC 102 and Ghent, Belgium-bound convoy BTC 103. In the former, U-399 torpedoes and sinks U.S. freighter John R. Park, 49°56’N, 05°26’W (all hands are rescued by U.S. freighter American Press); in the latter, what is most likely U-1195 torpedoes and sinks freighter James Eagan Lane, 50°13’N, 04°14’W. British freighter Monkstone and rescue tug Flaunt rescue the survivors.
A skeleton crew (including four Armed Guard sailors) reboard the freighter and rig the ship for towing. Tugs Flaunt and Atlas beach the ship at Whitesand Bay, but James Eagan Lane is ultimately written off as a total loss.*U.S. freighter Charles D. McIver sinks after striking a mine as she leaves Antwerp, Belgium, in convoy ATM 100, 31°22’35″N, 03°05’50″W. British motor minesweeper BYMS 2279 rescues one of the four boatloads of survivors; the other three boatloads, rescued by a motor torpedo boat, find safety on board tank landing ship LST-430.
Upchurch has been diagnosed with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) due to this enemy action. There are no questions regarding the facts of the case. We have the ships log. We have the medical records and a clear admission by the Department of the Navy:
“The fact that Mr. Upchurch was injured is not in dispute, however, it’s the manner in which he was injured.”
Most casualties in World War 2 were caused by artillery fire. Artillery fire is, by definition, “indirect fire.” Thus, a torpedo, a mortar shell or a German “88,” none are direct fire. If an American bomber were to be shot down over Germany, the crew trapped in the burning wreck as it plunges to earth, what do we call that?
We all know that Rodney Wilkerson, Assistant Veterans Awards Coordinator is doing something wrong. What we want to know is why he is doing something wrong. Someone had to have empowered him to abuse reality in such a way, empower him to abuse of administrative authority. Rodney Wilkerson. This is his name. Remember Rodney Wilkerson. Perhaps one of our patriotic organizations might want to have a word with Rodney. Maybe one of our members of congress can invite him to the hill to discuss the Upchurch situation.
Perhaps we might want to look at how many others are out there, like Upchurch, being toyed with, victims of the most extreme form of abuse and disrespect imaginable. We need to meet you, Mr. Wilkerson. Are you a disabled veteran, suffering the sting of shame for acts like this one? We want to know about you, why you do what you do and who on g-d’s earth let you think you could get away with this.
Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades.
Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues.
Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.