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70 Years After Discharging Him for Being Gay, Navy Changes WWII Vet's 'Undesirable' Discharge to 'Honorable'

Melvin Dwork, a World War II veteran discharged in 1944 after the Navy discovered he was gay, has had his discharge changed from "undesirable" to "honorable", the AP reports:

Dwork The decision to amend his discharge papers was made by the Board for Corrections of Naval Records in Washington.

In its Aug. 17 proceedings, obtained by The Associated Press, the board noted that the Navy has undergone a “radical departure” from the outright ban on gays that was in place in 1944. The board pointed out Dwork’s “exemplary period of active duty” and said that changing the terms of his discharge was done “in the interest of justice.”

Dwork had been outed by his boyfriend at the time of his discharge, a fact that he only discovered last year, when the Navy unsealed his records. The former corpsman, now 89, "will now be eligible for the benefits he had long been denied, including medical care and a military burial."

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  1. What a great result!

    Posted by: Gigi | Sep 16, 2011 6:12:56 PM


  2. I'm very happy for Mr. Dwork, but what the hell is wrong with this country that he was made to suffer his entire adult life solely because he wanted to put his life on the line for it?

    Posted by: ohplease | Sep 16, 2011 7:03:49 PM


  3. W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!

    Great to hear these good news for American who has given to our country. Congrats and thanks!

    Posted by: FunMe | Sep 16, 2011 7:21:28 PM


  4. Bravo for Mr. Dwork but, as virtually every article about the ban by the AP, this one is full of factual errors. We hope the usually brilliant Mr. Belkin was misquoted because I know he knows that, as many horror stories as there are, all of those 100,000 pre-DADT discharges were NOT “undesirable.” First, for several years, including WWII, the military kept very poor records, but in at least one small WWII Army study, some known gays were documented as receiving honorable discharges [HDs]. And, according to a June 25, 1975, “Army Times” article, “fiscal Year [FY] 1970 marked a major change in the percentage of service members receiving undesirable discharges [UDs]. In FY 1969, the percentage of UDs for homosexual acts and sexual perversion was 54%; in FY 1970, 41 %; and in FY 1979, 4.8% (52 of 1,085). 60% were HDs in FY 1979.”

    Further, the even greater change to HDs was NOT the result of DADT, but predates it by 12 years when, in the last days of the Carter Administration, then Deputy Secty of Defense W. Graham Claytor, Jr., ordered on January 16, 1981, that, in the absence of "aggravating circumstances" [e.g., being caught having sex on base] gays should receive honorable discharges. Some commanders ignored the order, but by 1990, some 95% of those discharged received some kind of Honorable designation.

    Finally, while SLDN's Mr. Sarvis may think he's an all-knowing God, just because he is unaware of other cases of upgrades from WWII doesn't mean they don't exist.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell@LeonardMatlovich.com | Sep 16, 2011 7:42:04 PM


  5. Meanwhile - he had a life with a "dishonorable discharge" attached to his name. That's a tragedy.

    Posted by: Steve | Sep 16, 2011 8:45:34 PM


  6. The great thing here is this happened while he was still alive. So many of these injustices are remedied after the person has passed on; when it's too late.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Sep 16, 2011 9:27:20 PM


  7. HEY I know Melvin Dwork! He is a NYC interior designer now! Bravo!

    Posted by: Jeff | Sep 16, 2011 9:36:58 PM


  8. Congratulations, sir. It's justice delayed and bittersweet, but still it's a nice vindication for you and your service.

    Posted by: Karl | Sep 16, 2011 9:55:03 PM


  9. I am so thrilled to read this, what a wonderful way to mark the repeal of the despised and evil DADT policy! The tireless, patriotic service of Mr. Dwork has finally been recognized by the Dept. of Defense, what an honor. I am so happy to witness to the recognition of our fellow gay and lesbian service members!

    Posted by: Xavi | Sep 16, 2011 11:20:34 PM


  10. This is nice, but as a 20 year old, it just saddens me so much when I think about the gay generations before me that lived decades or their whole life in isolation and discrimination, as this article highlights. I don't feel alone today and I don't feel have to hide who I am thanks to them. Progress is just so damn slow, and it takes lifetimes of suffering for the most basic recognition and humanity to manifest.

    Posted by: Damien | Sep 17, 2011 12:58:56 AM


  11. How unfortunate that Michael Bedwell cant celebrate a final victory for Mr Dwork without trying to make this all about Michael Bedwells superior knowledge regarding the military and their progress. Same on him. This is Mr Dwork's moment Michael not yous!

    Posted by: Major707 | Sep 17, 2011 2:12:31 AM


  12. Thank you Mr. Dwork for your service to our country. I'm glad someone did the right thing. Bless you.

    Posted by: lauraby | Sep 17, 2011 2:21:00 AM


  13. No, Coward Refusing to Sign His Actual Name Going By "Major707"—this moment is about Truth—all of it—and I'm sure Mr. Dwork who was so long a victim of lies would agree. The only kind of person I can imagine objecting to my historical corrections is a shill for SLDN who doesn't like to see their arrogance called out.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell@LeonardMatlovich.com | Sep 17, 2011 3:11:24 AM


  14. What an ugly bastard.

    Posted by: HoHo | Sep 17, 2011 8:41:12 AM


  15. lest we forget!

    this is a time to honor all the men and women over more than two hundred years who served in all kinds
    of situations, in and out of closets, and helped our country in its times of need. not all were treated as badly as mel dwork; some were treated worse, and some of us were blessedly ignored. we served then, and we will serve now and in the years to come. quiet understanding is all we've ever wanted, with the same dignity as all who served.

    Posted by: littlebadwolf | Sep 17, 2011 9:11:43 AM


  16. Well Michael - I see I touched a nerve. For your information Major was a nickname I received from my army buddies when I served with them. I am a retired Naval officer that served prior to and during DADT. My name is Ray Graves and I still say let Mr. Dwork have his victory without your self inflated attention seeking. I belong to no LGBT organization....just to set the record straight.

    Posted by: Major707 | Sep 17, 2011 10:07:06 AM


  17. I agree with MAJOR707, a.k.a. Ray Graves.

    Posted by: Gigi | Sep 17, 2011 10:25:07 AM


  18. This is what hope looks like. 'The arc of the moral universe is long, But it bends toward justice' nice to see this truth experienced.

    Posted by: RichL | Sep 17, 2011 11:01:38 AM


  19. It's 70 years late and, in this case, it's not "better late than never". Unless, of course, the Government is willing to pay him 100% of the benefits he should have been receiving for the last 70 years...

    Posted by: Mike | Sep 17, 2011 12:57:38 PM


  20. I'm ashamed of myself for not having done much more over the years to let heroes like Mr. Dwork know that such upgrades have been available for decades. As an officer serving with the Army Council of Review Boards, I had the distinct pleasure of processing hundreds of similar cases from 1979 to 1981. The Carter Administration initiated the process of discharge upgrades for gay people. Clifford Alexander in particular, then Secretary of the Army, has been a powerful voice for gay equality for many years.

    Posted by: John Buie | Sep 18, 2011 8:29:26 PM


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