Lavelle To Get His Stars Back

President Obama has acted to return the two stars stripped from Maj. Gen. John Lavelle during the Vietnam War. Obama did so by posthumously nominating Lavelle for advancement on the retired rolls to the rank of full general, the Defense Department announced Wednesday. If the Senate approves this move, Lavelle would be restored to the highest rank that he achieved on active duty before he was removed from command of 7th Air Force in Saigon in April 1972. The President’s nomination follows an Air Force Board of Correction of Military Records decision and recommendations from the Defense Secretary and Air Force Secretary after evidence came to light that “clearly corrected the historical record and warranted a reassessment of Lavelle’s retired grade,” states DOD’s release. Lavelle had been demoted for allegedly ordering unauthorized bombing missions into North Vietnam and falsifying reports to conceal them. The recent findings included newly released and declassified information in 2007 showing that President Nixon authorized Lavelle to conduct the bombings. Further, the BCMR “found no evidence that Lavelle had caused, either directly or indirectly, the falsification of records, or that he was even aware of their existence,” according to DOD. Lavelle died in 1979. (For more background in this issue, see Lavelle as well as Lavelle, Nixon, and the White House Tapes from the Air Force Magazine archives).