The Vietnam Vet Behind Homecoming USA

Gary Linderer is the president and co-organizer of Operation Homecoming USA, the organization behind a Welcome Home… America’s Tribute to Vietnam Veterans, a huge welcome home tribute for Vietnam veterans in Branson, MO, June 13th to 19th. 150,000 vets are expected (at $79 each) which make this nearly a $12M dollar event for Linderer’s organization.

The advisory council for the event includes General Richard B. Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and H. Ross Perot, among others. The list of performers includes: The Beach Boys, the Fifth Dimension, Creedance Clearwater Revisited, Ann-Margret, the Doobie Brothers, the Supremes with Mary Wilson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Tony Orlando, and Les Brown’s Band of Renown with Les Brown, Jr..

Linderer is an an author and talent scout for Random House dealing in non-fiction Vietnam stories. He’s recruited a stable of authors from the ranks of his own unit and enjoys a popular following among readers of the genre.

It might surprise all of those supporting and attending the ceremony that the organizer’s actual Vietnam record is very Kerry-esqe.

Vietnam Vet Don Hall and his wife Annette (who were recruited as authors by Linderer) have been looking into Linderer’s Vietnam stories for several years. What the Hall’s have found out about portions of Linderer service record is very reminiscent of the Swift Boat Vets details on John Kerry’s war record. Their claims are outlined in a letter to Operation Homecoming USA Board of Directors. It’s worth noting that the Hall’s have meticulously documented their claims, and that shortly after receiving the letter the Homecoming USA site stopped mentioning Linderer’s name in press releases.

While the truth of Linderer’s stories might be somewhere between his serialized version of his exploits and the official records as uncovered by the Halls, it all brings back such a sense of deja vu for last August…

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Here’s the summary version of the Hall’s information:

  • Linderer’s biography at Random House claims he is a double Silver Star and double Purple Heart winner, yet his service record (obtained from the NPRC via FOIA) indicates he received one Silver Star and no Purple Hearts.

  • In July 1968, Gary Linderer was questioned during a U.S. Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division) investigation concerning the attempt made on the life of his commanding officer by someone in his unit. Mr. Linderer was CQ (Charge of Quarters) the night this incident occurred. The perpetrator of this crime was protected by Mr. Linderer and the other men in his unit when, according to Mr. Linderer himself, they all stuck together and offered little cooperation in the investigation. It is unclear whether or not Mr. Linderer knows who was the actual perpetrator of the attack on their C.O., but he has stated that if he knew, he would not tell. The C.O. stepped on a “toe-popper” land mine that had been placed at the entrance to his tent and had most of his foot blown off.

  • There are also questions about the veracity of Mr. Linderer’s version of events concerning what happened on 20 November 1968 during a patrol Mr. Linderer was on while he was in F58th LRP, the long range patrol unit he served with in the 101st Airborne Division and which operated in the I Corps area of South Vietnam. According to Mr. Linderer in his books and interviews, and in the books some of his colleagues have written (the we-stick-together group), his team engaged in a battle with a very large number of enemy soldiers (200) after having ambushed and killed a group of what he describes as NVA staff officers and NVA nurses. Records that were kept at the 101st Division level, of which Mr. Linderer, a Spec/4 at the time, was unaware, and which documented the radio transmissions in the 101st Airborne Division’s area of operations, seem to refute his version of these events. The records don’t differ slightly from Mr. Linderer’s version of the events; they differ greatly.

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