Elks rescind Fred Meyling’s citizen of the year award
Gardnerville, Nev. — Gardnerville Ranchos resident Fred Meyling has been asked to return his award as Tahoe-Douglas Elks Citizen of the Year as a result of accusations that he exaggerated his military record.
Former Exalted Ruler Toni Wendt said that the Elks have sent Meyling a letter asking for that award and a previous one he received from the organization.
It has been nearly three weeks since allegations that Meyling’s claim to be a U.S. Army colonel and a Green Beret was disputed by a group dedicated to outing those who claim to have served in special forces, but haven’t.
The claims were included in a speech prepared to accompany Meyling’s award as Elks Citizen of the Year. The speech was given on Feb. 14, and published by The Record-Courier in print and online on Feb. 18.
The speech, which was written by a member of the Elks based on information provided by Meyling, said that the wheelchair bound veteran graduated from nursing school at age 18 and became a Green Beret during eight years of service in the 1970s.
On March 9, Maj. Tim Howle posted documentation to the Special Forces Poser Patrol’s Facebook page, that showed Meyling had been in the U.S. Army for a year from 1971 to 1972. Howle’s accusations were not limited to Meyling’s military service, but also included several advanced degrees, and whether Meyling was ever really a certified nurse.
Meyling’s name does not appear in databases for licensed nurses in either Nevada or California.
When contacted about the accusations on the day they came to light on March 9, Meyling said that he would produce documentation to clear up the accusations in a few days. On March 11, he said he would come to The Record-Courier with documentation on March 16. Meyling has yet to provide any documentation to his claims to the newspaper.
Welcome All Veterans Everywhere announced on March 13 that Meyling had resigned as president.
New President Carl Schnock said that Meyling returned all their files to the group, but hadn’t provided any documentation to verify his claims.
Meyling confirmed on March 21 that he talked to accuser Howle on March 20, but said he didn’t want to make a statement about the conversation.
The Record-Courier has contacted Meyling repeatedly asking for a statement or documentation of his military record.
As a result of Howle’s accusations, The Record-Courier has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Defense for documents pertaining to Meyling’s military record.
According to records Howle obtained, Meyling spent a year in the U.S. Army between November 1971 and December 1972. His birthday on those records is October 1954, which would have made him 17 when he joined, and 18 when he mustered out.
Meyling claimed to have been on the security detail for the American team at the 1972 Munich Olympics when the Oct. 29 terrorist attack occurred, the day before his 18th birthday according to the documents. He told the Elks that he was 18 when he graduated from college with a nursing degree and went to medical officers candidate school. He said it wasn’t until after he graduated with the nursing degree that he said completed green beret school. According to military.com becoming a green beret takes more than a year.
In a post to the Special Forces Poser Patrol Facebook site, the Elks’ Wendt said they were not taking the situation lightly, and that the information in the speech written by Tom Zogorski came from Meyling.
“We are dedicated to our veterans even though it may appear that we may have been star stuck by Mr. Meyling’s history, we were by far not the first to be taken in,” Wendt said. “Mr. Zogorski took all information directly from Mr. Meyling. There is no way Mr. Zogorski would have ever presented to the Lodge and myself as Exalted Ruler information without Mr. Meyling’s approval.”
Wendt said Zogorski should not be held responsible for believing Meyling.
“In no way did he or should he be held responsible for believing in a veteran who exploited the trust of others,” Wendt said. “I plan further action pertaining to any and all awards presented to Mr. Meyling.”
Both the Elks Lodge and WAVE will continue their work with veterans.
“We’re sad for all the veterans that this affected,” Wendt said. “We took him at face value. That’s what we do here.”
Schnock said WAVE will continue its mission to assist and refer veterans to proper resources needed.
“We are working with other county organizations, government and private, and Nevada Rural Housing to provide affordable housing, to veterans,” he said. “We are committed to the integrity of WAVE, those who volunteer their honest efforts and those who donate to further our cause.”
WAVE meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Community & Senior Center.
Elks sponsor taco Thursday and other events to raise funds for veterans. Wendt said that Meyling had not received any money from the group.