The Department of Defense says it has informed Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England of a formal request to investigate alleged military code violations in Sen. John Kerry’s Silver Star award.

The request was made by the public interest group Judicial Watch after news reports revealed Kerry’s campaign website displays a document listing a “Silver Star with combat ‘V'” even though the combat “V” device is never given with the nation’s third highest award for heroism.

Also, there are three citations for the award, with the third, issued more than a decade after the event, bearing the signature of former Navy Secretary John Lehman.

Lehman, however, says he had nothing to do with the citation.

“It is a total mystery to me,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me.”

Judicial Watch’s director of investigations and research, Chris Farrell, told WorldNetDaily he spoke this afternoon with a Navy inspector who said the complaint is on his desk.

The inspector, according to Farrell, said he is awaiting instructions from “someone with a much higher pay grade.”

Jerome Corsi, author of “Unfit for Command,” the New York Times No. 1 best-seller by Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, told WorldNetDaily he considers the Judicial Watch complaint “an important and serious investigation.”

“We believe the secretary of the Navy will validate the charges we’ve made in ‘Unfit for Command,'” he said.

In a letter responding to Judicial Watch’s complaint, the inspector general of the Defense Department, John R. Crane, cited Section 8(d) of the Inspector General Act of 1978, which states “the IG of the Department of Defense shall expeditiously report suspected or alleged violations of chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (Uniform Code of Military Justice), to the Secretary of the military department concerned or the Secretary of Defense.”

The letter says, “We have informed the secretary of the Navy of the allegations.”

Judicial Watch filed the complaint Aug. 18 and then, Aug. 31, called on Kerry to remove the Silver Star citation from his campaign website pending a review of the U.S. Navy’s granting of the award.

“We hope that this is the beginning of the actual investigation into the legitimacy of Kerry’s awards,” Farrell told WND.

“Any investigation that finally uncovers the facts and lays out the ground-level truth of the story behind these medals is good for the American public,” he said. “We just need the unvarnished truth to come out.”

Gary Comerford, spokesman for the Defense Department’s inspector general, told WND the inspector general has simply processed the complaint.

“We get a lot of complaints,” he said. “When they come in, we look at each one and forward it to where the information is.”

But Farrell, a former Army officer, says he sees the speed of the response as an indication that the investigation has a chance to go forward.

“My experience has been that normally there is a tendency with a large military bureaucracy for these things to languish or for there to not be a tremendous sense of urgency,” he said.

He noted that in the course of Judicial Watch’s many investigations, requests often have taken years to generate a response.

“The fact that they are reacting in a relatively quick way, we find very encouraging,” he said.

Navy spokesman Lt. Ohene Gyapong told WND he could not comment immediately and would call back later.

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