Claude Douglas Sterner (Doug Sterner)

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Claude Douglas Sterner (Doug Sterner)
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Claude Douglas Sterner

(1950-02-12) February 12, 1950 (age 73)
Kalispell, Montana, USA
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma materPueblo Community College
  • Military Historian
  • Author
Spouse(s)Pamla May Sterner

Claude Douglas Sterner (born February 12, 1950) is a U.S. Military Historian and American author with more than 80 published books. With his wife Pamla May Sterner, he co-authored the Federal Stolen Valor Act in 2006. He is the creator and Curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor (, [1]the largest and most comprehensive database of U.S. Military Award citations in the world.

Early life

Sterner was born in Kalispell, Montana, and lived most of his early life in Montana, with brief periods in Grants Pass, Oregon, and Mount Hermon, California. As a student in the third grade, he wrote his first poem. For his graduation ceremony from the 8th Grade in Scotts Valley, California, Sterner borrowed a ventriloquist doll from a friend and after much practice, made his first public performance. During his sophomore year, back in Kalispell, Montana, he wrote his first full-length novel, a World War II fiction story about three soldiers who earned the Medal of Honor titled “The Hero.” Although it was never published, it sparked a series of writing projects over the following years, during which time he became friends with, and was mentored by Ace (Asa Lynn) Powell, a fellow member of the Montana Institute of the arts. In his senior year he wrote his second full-length fiction novel (unpublished) titled "A Drop in the Bucket", but focused much of his time writing poetry. He graduated from Lincoln County High School in Eureka, Montana in 1968, an attended one semester at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, before enlisting in the Army.

Military service

Sterner enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969 and trained as a Combat Engineer, graduating from the Army’s Skilled Development Base (Shake-n-Bake) N.C.O. School in 1970 as an E-5 Sergeant. From August 1970 to March 1972 he served two consecutive tours of duty in Vietnam, earning two Bronze Stars (Meritorious) and the Army Commendation for Valor. During his tours of Vietnam duty, he served with the 25th Infantry Division, 14th Engineer Combat Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, and finally with the 1st Cavalry Division. He was honorably discharged and subsequently spent six years with an Aero-Rifle Platoon of the Montana Army National Guard in Deer Lodge, Montana. In 1972, while serving in Vietnam, he self-published his first book, a small compilation of original poetry titled “In the Master’s Hand.”


In 1975 Sterner married Pamla May Clark of Littleton, Colorado. The couple made their first home in Deer Lodge, Montana, where from 1974 to 1977 Sterner worked as a guard and then librarian for the Montana State Prison. During he employment he was one of only two officers to be twice cited by the Warden for his actions during incidents there. While living in Deer Lodge, he and his wife, who was also a ventriloquist, began renting a local church for once-a-month free shows for the children of their small community. This led to performances elsewhere around the state, and in 1977 Sterner left his employment to travel and perform full time in churches.

The share family

From 1977 to 1985 the Sterners traveled in their converted bus/motor home, with their two small children, performing in churches from Washington State to Ohio, and from California to Alaska. With their children, who performed as well, they used Gospel Magic, ventriloquism, puppets, clowning, balloon sculpture, and chalk art in churches and church summer camps. They billed themselves as "The SHARE Family". To promote their events at local churches, Sterner frequently performed a straight jacket escape while being suspended up-side-down by crane at local shopping center parking lots. The Sterners lectured often and were featured performers once, for the annual Fellowship of Christian Magicians convention at Winona Lake, Indiana. They wrote and published two large books titled “The SHARE Encyclopedia of Special Ministries” to mentor other teachers in how to use these arts, and Pam Sterner authored more than a dozen books for publication by the Maher Ventriloquist Studios. Doug also recorded two record albums containing 19 of his more than 250 original Gospel Music compositions

Home of heroes

The Sterners left their itinerant ministry to settle down in Denver, Colorado, in 1985, and for the next 13 years, he and his wife worked together managing HUD Subsidized apartment communities in Denver and then in Pueblo, Colorado. Beyond their employment duties, they engaged the youth of their communities including organized Scouting dens and community involvement projects. After Sterner rented the local Pueblo city park rides for the children of the community he was managing in 1992, Pamla Sterner came up with the idea of renting the entire park complex including the Pueblo Zoo for a day and making it free to all children in Pueblo. She did this for the first time on July 4, 1992. During planning for a sequel the following year, Sterner became aware of a of a Pueblo Medal of Honor recipient, now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He invited him to come home as an honored guest. As a result of that, he and Pam learned for the first time that Pueblo had four living Medal of Honor recipients, more than any other city in America. All four of them, now living in other states, returned home in 1993 for activities during which the Sterners launched a campaign to rename their city “America’s Home of Heroes”, an idea that at first received little support; Pueblo had been called “The Steel City” for decades. In successive years there were more events with additional Medal of Honor related activities.[2] In 1995 the Sterners brought 16 Medal of Honor recipient to Pueblo to recognize and honor an equal-size contingent of rescue workers from the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City only months before, led by Oklahoma City Chief of Police Sam Gonzales. In 1996 they brought 17 Medal of Honor recipients to Pueblo to speak in each and every K – 12 school in Pueblo County on National Medal of Honor Day (March 25), highlighted by . In 1997 the Congressional Medal of Honor Society presented Sterner their prestigious “Distinguished Citizen’s Award”, and in 2000 Pueblo hosted the annual Medal of Honor Convention, at which time city leaders finally relented and proclaimed Pueblo “America’s Home of Heroes”. In 1998 Sterner left his employment and enrolled in Pueblo Community College to pursue a degree in Computer Information Systems, graduating in 2000 with a 4.0 GPA. Also in 1998, with newly learned computer skills, he launched the website, a massive historical website that received millions of visitors each month. (In 2018 Sterner sold the website to focus solely on his Awards Database). Also in 1998, Sterner was appointed by Colorado Governor Bill Owens to the first of two consecutive terms on the Colorado State Board of Veterans Affairs. He was subsequently elected by the members of the board to serve a term as its Chairman.

Stolen valor act

In 2004 Pam Sterner, then a Political Science Student at Colorado State University-Pueblo wrote a class paper on the problem of fakers claiming unearned military awards. With the permission of author B.G. Burkett, who a few years earlier had addressed the problem in a book by that name, she identified the problem as “Stolen Valor”. Sterner and his wife succeeded in convincing their Congressman, John Salazar, to use that paper as the basis for Federal legislation to make wearing unearned military awards a crime. After two years of the often frustrating lobbying effort, in the closing days of the Congressional session, the Stolen Valor Act was passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush. Although that law was subsequently struck down in a divided decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, a hearing the Sterners were privileged to attend, in 2014 the U.S. House and Senate by nearly unanimous approval, passed a modified version of the Stolen Valor Act. [3][4]

Hall of valor

In 2007 Sterner was the impetus behind Federal legislation designed to instruct the Department of Defense to Digitize the General Orders and for all military awards cards in an available digital database. The proposed legislation did not get voted out of committee after a report from DoD said it could not be done. In 2012 he called on the Secretary of the Army to institute a review of all Silver Stars and higher awarded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to determine of some awards should be upgraded. [5] Again, he was denied, although three years later DoD did, in fact, begin such a review. In 2012 he testified before a House Subcommittee on the need for a database of military awards. Again denied, in the weeks following the hearing DoD did begin posting a database of all Medal of Honor awards, and the names of most Service Cross recipients, as well as the names of those who earned Silver Stars in Iraq and Afghanistan.[6] Meanwhile, he continues to create such a database himself, initial in his Home Of Heroes website and subsequently as creator and Curator of the “Military Times” Hall of Valor. That database, the largest and most complete awards database of its kind, currently identifies more than a quarter-million recipients of awards above the Bronze Star, out of an estimated 450,000 such awards in history.


Sterner is a prolific author[7] who has writes for numerous publications including “VFW Magazine” and “Vietnam Magazine”, as well as others.[8] He has been a contributor to numerous other books including “Chicken Soup for the Veterans Soul”. In 2005 he began self-publishing resource books based upon his database of award citations. Currently, he has more than 80 books in print, comprising more than 35,000 published pages, making him one of the most-published American historians ever. He has also authored two fiction, non-military related books.

He has been the subject of at least three major documentaries including one by Australia Broadcasting Company’s “Foreign Correspondent." [9] In 2012 the Congressionally Chartered Legion of Valor took the rare step of making him an honorary lifetime member of that organization dedicated to America’s most highly decorated heroes. He has appeared in such a historical documentary “American Valor”. Sterner continues his work from his home in Pueblo, Colorado. He and his wife Pamla have four children and six grandchildren.

In the media



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