Darol “Lefty” Lee; phony Iwo Jima hero

| August 14, 2017

We’ve discussed Medal of Honor recipient West Virginian Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams before and his amazing assault across the first airfield at Iwo Jima on February 23rd, 1945 where he nearly single-handedly took 7 pillboxes and killed a score of Japanese soldiers doing so.

Here is Woody’s MOH citation to refresh your memory;

Of, course no one does that kind of stuff alone. Williams was supported by fellow Marines who provided covering fire for him. According to early reports, PFC Wesley Strickland, CPL William Naro, CPL Alan Tripp, CPL Alex Schlager, PFC George Schwartz were covering Woody. Furthermore, two men died covering him and research is currently being done to ascertain their identities. Well, somehow, Darol “Lefty” Lee got his name on that list. Here is a paragraph in an original draft of a dispatch write-up of the incident from the National Archives;

Notice that Lefty isn’t mentioned. Well, his name got added to the dispatch somehow in a copy Lefty Lee has been giving to historians;

A page later in the phony document, it describes Lefty as having killed “10 Japs”, something he never did on Iwo Jima on 23 February because he wasn’t there. The problem is that “Lefty” was aboard the APA-33 USS Bayfield after being evacuated from the Iwo Jima beach for “combat fatigue/shell shock” the day before as seen in yet again another document from the National Archives.

Lefty was evacuated all the way back to the United States – here’s his unit status report for February;

Somehow Lefty convinced Woody, scholars and archivists for a long time that Lefty had been there, and, of course, Woody and others believed him. Woody had fought with Lefty on Guam and knew he was in his same company and had landed on Iwo Jima with him so he had no reason to doubt Lefty’s story, especially since he was a brother Marine. Here’s an article from the Winona Daily News;

Another clip from a USAToday article;

And yet another clip from the Minnesota Legionnaire from 2015 (.pdf);

For years, Lefty had claimed he had two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with V (see Al Zdon’s 2015 article in the Minnesota Legionnaire newsletter shown above). However, he always claimed he had never received his second Purple Heart for his actions on Iwo Jima and had “lost” his Bronze Star and its citation in a move.

Knowing this, a group of well-meaning veterans decided that Lefty should get some long overdue recognition for his participation in the battle and historians began researching Lefty’s participation in the assault on Iwo Jima. Instead of finding supporting documents to honor Lefty, they discovered that he had barely participated in the battle, let alone in the MOH incident involving the real hero Woody Williams.

He had indeed served his country honorably before Iwo Jima. The year before Iwo, Lefty had been wounded on Guam;

He had an impressive career and he fought across the Pacific with the Marine Corps;

But, for some reason, that wasn’t enough. Lefty felt a need to inject himself into the story of Woody Williams, and the fog of war allowed him to take advantage of Woody and many journalists and scholars for several years.

Lefty has finally admitted to the fake story.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (33)

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  1. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Honorable service crapped on by years worth of lies…

  2. Combat Historian says:

    This guy had survived the battle to liberate Guam, one of the hardest-fought battles in the Central Pacific Campaign, only to lie and embellish about his role on Iwo. This is just plain sad…

  3. Silentium Est Aureum says:

    I don’t know whether to be pissed or just sad.

    • Jay says:

      I’d say sad. Guy was a legit HERO who served in literal hell on earth….and it wasn’t enough. I thought this was going to be an easy one of a dude who was too young to be an Iwo vet. This one just breaks my heart.

  4. AW1 Tim says:

    Un-Frikkin’ believable

  5. USMCMSgt (Ret) says:

    The National Archives document appears to be “Courier New” font and the other version appears to be “Times New Roman”.

    (Curious how that happened).

    I’ll give him credit for the unembellished service of his youth because it truly was honorable and impressive, but I give him no quarter because he’s a fucking lying old man.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      The National Archives document was done on a typewriter. There is a typo that someone tried to correct, the ‘n’ in ‘Jefferson Parish’ looks like an ‘h’ corrected to be an ‘n’.

      The paper is aging, starting to turn brown from oxidation, too.

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    This is too sad for words. He was there, however briefly it may have been, but he had to spit in his own face.

    I will never understand this.

  7. Mark Lauer says:

    I would have been proud to shake this guy’s hand, and buy him a beer on his real record alone.
    Why did he feel he needed more? To cover up the Combat Fatigue?
    If anybody could have a legitimate case, I think HE would. He saw enough action; and we now know a lot more about Combat Fatigue (PTSD).
    Another bad mark for my home state.

  8. Mick says:

    Oh. Hell. No.

    Why? Why embellish and lie like this? There was no need for any of it. This guy’s real record was more than good enough.

    (sighs; shakes head)

  9. MrBill says:

    Definitely mixed feelings about this guy, who had genuinely awesome service without the embellishments. While he may not be worthy of the level of abuse we may heap on some dirtbags, it’s still important to set the record straight.

  10. Toasty Coastie says:

    I got nothing….Shit all over a perfectly honourable career just to ride the coat tails of another hero. I will never understand this.

  11. FatCircles0311 says:

    CAW CAW!!!!!!!

    What a blue falcon piece of shit.

    • Ret_25X says:

      another day in the life of the most fantastic buddy f*cker the world has ever known….

      Blue Falcon Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

  12. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    My Neighbor Herb Sicular who passed away a number of months ago at 90+ did fight on IWO and would turn over in his grave if he ever heard about this story. oorah Herb and RIP.

  13. If I remember correctly, weren’t ALL combat veterans of the Second World War retroactively awarded the Bronze Star Medal just a few years ago?

    If so, then he legitimately has a Bronze Star Medal (with “V” device?) and a Purple Heart Medal, plus his campaign medals (i.e., World War II Victory Medal, Pacific Campaign Medal, et cetera).

    Did he also get a Good Conduct Medal?

    That’s at least five (05), possibly even six or seven, or even more medals, plus his marksmanship badge(s).

    And, best of all, he gets to wear that snazzy dress blue uniform to impress females.

    How old is he?

    My father, stepmother, and all of my uncles (except one, who was rejected) served during the Second World War, and every one of them is deceased.

  14. jonp says:

    I’m not sure what to say. My Uncle Ray fought across the South Pacific and I’m pretty sure he would kick that asshat in the nuts for dishonoring his Marines like that.

    This is worse than the usual crap. The guy was at Guam for The Love of God. Wasn’t that enough???

  15. Just An Old Dog says:

    He was on Guam and fought for 4 days on the assault on Iwo Jima.
    Just can’t figure out why the hell he needed to one up that.

  16. Tallywhagger says:

    You have to admire the diligence and competence of the folks who audit these stories to separate fact from fiction.

  17. Green Thumb says:

    Odd story.


  18. J Bro says:

    I personally have known this man for years. He is by far a most humble caring man. He served with pride, did the job he was given. I think nothing less of him. I am proud to call this man a friend. signed: Past Post CMDR American Legion