Every now and then, a case comes to our notice concerning an ex-serviceman who embellishes his medal entitlement, which just leaves us scratching our head and asking, why?
This is the case of Leo William Walsh, OAM an ex-serviceman who served in the Royal Australian Navy, discharged and enlisted into the Australian Army and served with distinction in the Special Air Service Regiment seeing active service in Borneo, the Malaysian Emergency, and two tours of Vietnam with SASR and 6 RAR. He is now the Curator of the Queensland Military Memorial Museum. For his service to the community through the museum, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). During his service in the Navy, he was awarded a Naval Board Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Leo Walsh was one of a select group of SAS to have seen action in Borneo and the Malaysian Emergency.
And in Vietnam during two tours.
WHY then would such a distinguished ex-serviceman embellish is service by wearing medals he has no entitlement to? Leo Walsh wears an impressive array of medals on his rack.
The medals he wears are:
OAM (General Division) - Entitled
Australian Active Service Medal 45-75 - Entitled
Korea Medal - Not Entitled
United Nations Service Medal for Korea - Not Entitled
Naval General Service Medal (1915 - 62) - Entitled
General Service Medal 1962 - Entitled
Vietnam Medal - Entitled
Defence Force Long Service Medal - Entitled
Reserve Force Medal - Entitled
National Medal - Entitled
Australian Defence Medal - Entitled
US Bronze Star - Not Entitled
Vietnam Campaign Medal - Entitled
Pingat Jasda Malaysia - Entitled
He is entitled to clasps to the medals listed above; AASM45-75 (Malaysia, Vietnam), ASM45-75 (FESR, Korea, PNG, Thailand)
Walsh served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1953 until 1959 when as his records show, he was discharged SNLR ‘Services No Longer Required’.
The Korean War broke out in 1950, and a ceasefire agreed to in 1953 effectively ‘ending’ the war. His record of service shows that he served on HMAS Tobruk from 1st September 1955 until 3rd January 1957. During this period, HMAS Tobruk deployed to Korean waters, Walsh along with all other members of the crew became entitled to The Australian Service Medal 1945 – 1975 with Clasp ‘Korea’
It can be clearly seen in the photographs of his medals, Walsh is wearing the Korea Medal and the United Nations Service Medal for Korea.
Personnel who served in Korea during the time of the Korean War are eligible to receive up to three medals; the Korea Medal, the UN Medal for Korea and the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75.
The medal was instituted in July 1951 and awarded for service in Korea between 1 July 1950 and 27 July 1953.
The United Nations Service Medal (Korea) is awarded to those members who were posted for any period with the United Nations (UN) forces in Korea between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954.
The medal is also awarded to personnel who served in adjacent areas like Japan and Okinawa operating under UN command or sent to support UN operations in Korea in the relevant period from 1950 to 1954.
Clearly, Walsh did not serve in Korea and has no entitlement to wear either medal. The only entitlement he has is to the ASM 1945-75 with Clasp Korea.
ANZMI contacted Walsh and gave him numerous opportunities to explain why he wears the two Korea Medals and why his name does not appear on the nominal roll of eligible veterans. His reply, below, leaves a lot to be desired.
Yet again, we are expected to believe that all supporting records have been expunged or ‘lost’. If we accept that he enlisted underage as he claims and went to Korea almost immediately after his recruit and trade training, surely it is not unreasonable that someone who he went to recruit school and trade training would remember him and be able to vouch for his story. If indeed he went to Korea you would think he could advise the job he had there, but no, every request made to him to provide this basic information has met with blank replies, health claims and threats of legal action. The whole scenario of being underage and sent to Korea is just a little hard to believe we think.
The question must be asked as to how the Department of Defence Honours and Awards were able to find records to send him the war medals, yet apparently there are no records of his ‘underage service’. Walsh would have us believe that the Navy expunged his ‘underage service record’ to avoid embarrassment to the Navy. If such a mistake was made it would be in the public interest to know how the Navy could make such a monumental error occur without records being kept. In reality, how could such a ‘secret’ be kept for so long by Walsh and those who knew him, trained with him and served with him? If you believe Leo Walsh, you must also believe that man did not walk on the Moon. The answer is of course an easy one. Leo Walsh has no entitlement to wear those medals.
The third medal in question is the US Bronze Star worn by Walsh.
The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest individual military award and the ninth-highest by order of precedence in the US Military. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with the "V" device.
The medal is sometimes referred to as the Bronze Star. Foreign soldiers, as well as officers from the other Federal uniformed services are also eligible to receive the decoration when serving with or alongside a service branch of the United States Armed Forces.
A record of awardees of the Bronze Star is kept and readily accessible on the internet and includes awards to Foreign Service personnel, including Australians. As expected, a search for Leo William Walsh reveal no award was made.
A common mistake made by medals cheats who award themselves US awards and Medals is that no records of such awards were kept. The common belief that US Generals distributed medals like confetti is a misnomer. Had the award been made to Walsh in Vietnam, a record would have been made, but again no such record can be found.
Leo William Walsh wears an impressive rack of medals, reflecting distinguished service in the Australian Defence Force but he has no entitlement to three of them and by wearing them, he is committing offences against the Defence Act 1903, where he is in breach of Part VII Sections 80A and 80B, which state there is a maximum penalty of $3,300 fine and six months imprisonment or both for:
80A. Falsely representing to be returned soldier, sailor or airman
80B. Improper use of service decorations
Under other circumstances, it could be argued that Walsh is wearing these medals while in ‘period’ Army Dress, costume if you will. However, as can be seen in the photograph below, he wears them on official commemorative occasions as well.
So the question is why? Why, Leo Walsh would you sully your distinguished service in the Armed Forces? Indeed as a member of an elite Regiment such as the SAS, with service in Borneo, Malaya and Vietnam - why do you feel the need to steal the valour due to genuine veterans who saw active service during the Korean War?
We at ANZMI also have information concerning the manner in which the US Bronze Star possibly came into your possession. If this information is correct you should hang your head in shame.
With such a distinguished record of service, it is difficult to label Leo Walsh as a medals cheat, but regrettably, that is what he is. Wearing the Korean Medals is an offence against the Defence Act 1903 and those ex-servicemen and women who served with distinction in Korea. His wearing the US Bronze Star when a genuine entitlement cannot be established belittles his genuine service. His actions cannot be condoned, even by such a distinguished ex-serviceman. Let us hope that the appropriate authorities take action against him. In any event, his actions have undoubtedly tarnished the respect which should be owed to him and he must live with that. Welcome to the ANZMI website Leo Walsh.