Joe Tanners’ Military Medals Claim Clarified

by lewwaters

Joe Tanner, announced candidate for the Clark County Commissioner seat now occupied by Tom Mielke has caught the eye of primarily bloggers who have questioned claims made on his ABOUT JOE TANNER page. Primarily the claim, “As an active duty Vietnam veteran, Joe Tanner received numerous combat medals.

Mr. Tanner served in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician from 1966 to 1970 and was aboard the USS Providence, a Cleveland-class light cruiser that was converted to a guided missile cruiser. More on the ship will follow below.

As a Vietnam Veteran who served “boots on the ground” in the Central Highlands for 18 months, reading a sailors claim of “numerous combat medals” caught my eye as most sailors served aboard ships cruising in the South China Sea, far away from much of the in country battles in support roles. It also caught the eye of Clark County Politics, also a US Army Veteran with both of us seeking answers and clarification from the Tanner Campaign.

Mr. Tanner has answered with a copy of his Discharge, DD-214 and a statement on his Military Service below.

Statement to go along with Joe Tanner’s DD-214 form

(standard military separation form).

I look forward to sharing my military service. I was proud to volunteer during a time of war, and the experience for me was unmatched by college, career or politics. Only family can compare to the feeling I had while in service to my country.

I joined the U.S. Navy in 1966, one year out of high school. After completing boot camp in San Diego I was assigned to the USS Providence CLG-6 (guided missile cruiser), which immediately deployed to Viet Nam to serve as the flagship for the 7th fleet. In 1966 the Navy controlled the Viet Nam War, and that Admiral was also on the Providence.

I was honorably discharged April 3, 1970, having served on active duty 3 years, 8 months and 29 days, and having participated in 6 campaigns in Viet Nam. I was paid combat pay and exempted from income taxes for more than 2 years during this period. As stated in my DD-214 discharge document, I was awarded the following medals for this service to the country: (1) Viet Nam Service Medal (6 bronze stars); (2) Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal; (3) National Defense Service Medal; (4) Armed Forces Expeditionary Metal; and (5) Navy Unit Commendation Medal.

I reached the rank of ETN-2 (electronic technician, second class petty officer). I maintained communications equipment, including the encryption equipment used for communications between the ship and the other command centers. I held a Top Secret Cryptographic clearance. Among the challenging aspects of this job was climbing up the antennas high above the ship’s superstructure.

The Providence provided fire support (5 & 6 inch guns) and controlled air combat operations in Viet Nam during the time of my service, sometimes receiving incoming fire. The ship also led an armada to North Korea when the USS Pueblo was seized, where we encountered an equally determined Russian armada. A further history of the Providence from three sources appears below.

Here is a brief history of my deployment on the Providence (http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-p/clg6.htm). “Providence’s third Seventh Fleet tour of duty, her second as flagship, took place between December 1966 and December 1968. In an era dominated by the conflict in Southeast Asia, she was frequently called upon to operate off Vietnam, where her advanced electronics were employed to control air combat operations, while her guns shelled enemy targets ashore. During the Tet offensive, in February 1968, she provided bombardment support for the U.S. Marines’ intense fight to recapture the city of Hue. Shortly before that, in January 1968, she made a fast run north to Korean waters in response to the seizure of the U.S. intelligence-gathering ship Pueblo.”

From another source, here is additional information about that deployment (http://www.hullnumber.com/CLG-6). “She contributed to a major bombardment of enemy positions in Vietnam in April 1967. She dueled with an enemy shore battery off the DMZ on 25 May. In July she provided gunfire support for amphibious operations. She bombarded enemy storage areas south of Da Nang 10 October. During 1968, she provided gunfire support off Vietnam during each month except June and December. In February 1968, during the enemy’s Tet offensive, gunfire from Providence effected an important breach in the wall of an enemy strongpoint at Hue.”

From a third source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Providence_(CLG-6), “In February 1968 the Providence was involved in the Tết Offensive. She contributed by shelling the wall around “The Citadel” in Huế (pronounced ‘way’), in the Battle of Hue, a breach in the wall was opened, allowing the United States Marine Corps to break the stalemate at Huế. After this, the Providence along with three carrier groups headed for the Sea of Japan as the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea. During 1969 she operated with the 1st Fleet off the West Coast.”

I appreciate Mr. Tanner’s response and clarification on his claims.

It should also be noted that Commissioner Mielke also served in Vietnam, with the 82nd Airborne, receiving a Bronze Star with V as well as other service ribbons we all received, Vietnam Campaign w/60 Device, Vietnam Service, National Defense Service Ribbon and such.

This question of service arose due to others in the past who have embellished, exaggerated and in some instances, fabricated claims of Military Service, especially during a time of conflict. Joe Tanners’ claim is not fabricated, but the claim of “numerous combat medals” does come across as a slight embellishment of his Honorable Service.

I will be sitting down with Mr. Tanner shortly today, discussing this and other matters and will update this as need be.

9 Comments to “Joe Tanners’ Military Medals Claim Clarified”

  1. What is problematic for me is this:

    He didn’t respond to me, and,

    NONE of the awards listed are for “combat.” In fact, the awards mentioned specifically do not include “combat.”

    Hopefully, he will change the word “combat” to “service.”

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  2. That is one recommendation I will make today.

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  3. I find it “odd” when politicians “pick & choose” who they will acknowledge and respond to when the same concerns arise from all quarters. A question is a question no matter where it comes from. “Selective” responses smack strongly of Elitism and arrogance.

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  4. Just got in from lunch with Tanner.

    He said he was going to change the “Numerous Combat Medals” claim to something more along the line of “Meritorious Medals and Awards,” which would be better I feel.

    I asked too about not reply to Kelly and he indicated he was unaware that Kelly contacted him too. Strange since Kelly emailed first.

    We’ll see how it all shakes out as we progress.

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  5. And I would be perfectly fine with that. Thanks for asking him, Lew, and I have no problem with the change of his bio to “meritorious Medals and Awards.”

    “Combat Medals” as a descriptive phrase has, I feel, a much more specific definition which his service did not meet.

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  6. Kelly, I owe you an apology, which I will send to you personally, but I wanted to say so publicly on Lew’s blog. I never did see a message from you, but I have now discovered that you did indeed send it. E-mail from my campaign account forwards to my personal e-mail, and when it does it looks like I am sending myself a message. I just missed it, sorry. I have already changed the word “combat” to “meritorious Medals and Awards” as you suggested. And Kelly, next time Lew and I have lunch I hope you will come also. Best wishes

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  7. Wow. Great efforts to straighten this out. Thanks, everybody.

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  8. I was aboard the Providence with Joe and we did receive the Combat Action Ribbon for action on 25 May 1967 when we took fire from a shore battery and the ship was hit, causing serious damage. I have pictures if you need proof. We did silence the shore battery though.

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  9. I appreciate that as much as the next guy, but even Joe himself didn’t make that claim and his DD 214 does not show it.

    Just sayin’.

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