Frederick Mayer, the Real “Inglorious Basterd,” Deserves a Medal of Honor

The following is being released by The OSS Society:

The White House recently announced that it will present the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014, to 24 Army veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, whose Distinguished Service Crosses are being upgraded to Medals to Honor to rectify past discrimination. We believe Office of Strategic Services (OSS) veteran Fred Mayer should have been included among these Medal of Honor recipients.

THE OSS SOCIETY, INC. 2ND LT. FREDERICK MAYERFred Mayer, a Jewish refugee from Germany and a naturalized American citizen, was recruited by the OSS, the World War II predecessor to the CIA and the US Special Operations Command, and volunteered to lead Operation Greenup, one of the most daring and successful missions behind German lines. His remarkable bravery was told in the award-winning documentary The Real Inglorious Bastards, and in Patrick O’Donnell’s book, They Dared Return: The True Story of Jewish Spies Behind the Lines in Nazi Germany
. Mayer was nominated for the Medal of Honor on September 17, 1945, for “knowingly and willingly (risking) his life almost daily” and gathering “secret intelligence of great value to the United States” during the two months he was behind enemy lines, often dressed in a German officer’s uniform. 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 containing troops and munitions, he was captured by the Gestapo and tortured for three days.

In one of the war’s greatest bluffs, he convinced a top Nazi to surrender Innsbruck, Austria, and all German forces in the area. Mayer then met the advancing American Army, crossing German and American lines in a combat zone at great risk to his life, to inform the Americans of the surrender – saving countless lives on both sides.

The War Department rejected the nomination and recommended that he receive the Legion of Merit instead. His commander, who “did not believe that the Awards and Citations Board was familiar with the circumstances of the case,” then asked the Army “that a new recommendation be submitted for the … Medal of Honor or at least for the Distinguished Service Cross.” This request was also rejected. Had Fred Mayer he received the Distinguished Service Cross, it is very likely he would have been included among the 24 Medal of Honor recipients whose names were released by the White House on February 21, 2014.

Senator Jay Rockefeller read a statement about Mayer in the US Senate on April 25, 2013, and sent a letter about him to President Obama. Senator Rockefeller also filed a request last year for Mayer’s Medal of Honor nomination to be reviewed. The Army refused to reconsider its earlier decision not to award Mayer the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross.

We believe that Fred Mayer’s heroic service should be recognized by a Medal of Honor and that this injustice should be corrected. We respectfully request that the Army reopen the nomination filed by Senator Rockefeller.

The OSS Society is a nonprofit organization that celebrates the historic accomplishments of the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, the first organized effort by the United States to implement a centralized system of strategic intelligence and the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Command. It educates educates the American public regarding the continuing importance of strategic intelligence and special operations to the preservation of freedom.

SOURCE The OSS Society, Inc.


  1. Medal of Honor was Awarded to 24 Veterans Tuesday; Fred Mayer Deserved to be the 25th - Veterans Resources - March 19, 2014

    […] 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 […]

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