After winning an upset write-in vote to become mayor of the city of Pacific, population 6,000, Cy Sun continues to surprise his constituents. A political newcomer, he not only beat the two-term incumbent by 70 votes in November (going door-to-door to solicit write-in backing), one of his first acts was to seek a lower weekly wage - $15 - essentially saying he'd serve for free. The newest surprise though is a real stunner: did he exaggerate claims about his war record to win election?
City Council member Gary Hulsey, a Marine Corps vet who served during Vietnam, has asked the question, and is awaiting Sun's answer. "I would love to see him have these awards, and we can clear this up," he says. "But there are too many phonies out there who claim to be veterans."
Sun, an 81-year-old Korean and Vietnam war veteran, said he earned a Purple Heart, distinguished service medal, and Croix de Guerre, the French medal rarely awarded to U.S. soldiers.
Doug Sterner, a curator for the Military Times Hall of Valor in Alexandria, Va., told the Auburn Reporter that a "Herbert Cy Sun" earned a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts in Korea. But whether Sun was awarded the French medal, at least, is still up in the air.
Hulsey, a state commander for two major veterans organizations, says the new mayor might have violated the Stolen Valor Act, a law that makes it a federal misdemeanor offense to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration or medal.
Hulsey asked Sun to meet with him and present proof of the awards. After Sun failed to show, Hulsey said he'd seek a federal investigation. Sun, meanwhile, isn't saying much other than indicating he's still being dogged by some of the same political factions that were present in the campaign.
That, at least, can be confirmed. Writes the man he defeated, Richard Hildreth, who still lists himself as Pacific's mayor on his "Mayor Rich" blog: "I want Mayor Sun to provide to the citizens the facts one way or another. If as I suspect, it shows that he lied to the voters to gain office, I hope he does the honorable thing and resigns."