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Imposters (Stolen Valor and otherwise), Tell Us About Your Encounters&


fm2176

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As a Soldier, my first impulse was to start a thread dealing solely with military imposters. Then I reflected back on my own encounters with a variety of embellishers and outright phonies and realized that--while the vast majority of imposters claim military or other government (police, alphabet agency, etc) service--there are a few who will lay claim to just about anything. Here are a few of the highlights I've encountered:

 

The "recently graduated Marine Scout-Sniper" who walked into a gun store while I was talking to one of the clerks. He proceeded to talk about a SAFN-49 I was looking at, saying that it was a piece of crap and they showed videos of them in the Sniper School. Continuing, he loudly told the clerk that as a sniper he was going to be reimbursed for whatever firearms he bought (he was encouraged to buy guns to familiarize himself on them), and then, after noting the $1200 or so price tag on an M1A, he stated that as a Marine he could buy a surplus M-14 for $700. I wasn't a Soldier at that time, but the kid stood out as possibly a recent graduate of Parris Island (he had the haircut and overall bearing of a young Marine). As a gun guy I knew his stories were as fake as they come.

 

The Wall The Heals driver. He tricked me. He tricked the other veterans at the Louisiana All-Veterans Reunion a few years back. Biker looking guy, vest with Purple Heart and Silver Star patches, claimed he was a Force Recon Gunnery Sergeant who lost half his foot to a mine. I was in uniform, having set up a recruiting booth, and we all gathered around the beer truck the last day. This guy raised no alarms and only spoke about his service when others brought it up. Imagine my surprise when a few months later I see him on POW Network. He'd spent a few years in the Navy, never served in Vietnam, and is a convicted felon to boot: https://sites.google.com/site/combatvietnamveteransoftexas1/james-richard-lyons-2

 

Of course, not all military phonies are random encounters. I've served with a couple of Soldiers whose stories just didn't add up. There was the fellow NCO who claimed service with a Special Forces Group Support unit in the National Guard (not uncommon). He claimed to have filled a sniper role in Kosovo (odd that SF would need a support guy as a sniper) with confirmed kills. He also claimed to have been put in an overwatch position on top of an airport terminal after 9/11. Those stories would only come out when others asked me about my experiences in Iraq (as one of only a few combat veterans in my unit at the time). I found the guy's "love me" book (where Soldiers keep all their certificates and records) and noted no military training prior to his active duty start date. Also, his DIEMS (Date Initially Entered Military Service) date didn't reflect any prior service.

 

Way back when, when I was a technician, I'd occasionally run into guys that knew everything about everything. I was always one of the youngest in the service department (23 as a forklift technician, next youngest tech was 28, IIRC), so it wasn't often that I could just call someone out. Still, certain boasts and stories have a distinct smell to them, and it isn't hard to tell when someone is full of themselves and just might be inflating their tales.

 

I've got many more stories but for the life of me can't remember them right now, so let's hear yours. Any encounters with the Guy Who Killed bin Laden's firstborn? How about the Jiffy Lube employee that used to own half the Chevy dealerships in the area?

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I work for a state agency that maintains a military training facility in central Kansas. Many soldiers pass through here on their way to deployment. One of our buildings is a large dormitory like structure. Nearby there is a shelter for homeless men. Last summer one of the homeless men took up residency in Nickle Hall. Evidently he stole an officers ID and uniform then moved into one of the rooms. He may have been there for 3 to 6 weeks before he was discovered. What finally gave him away was when he was wandering the halls barefoot and needed a hair cut. Needless to say security has increased a lot now.

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Well not stolen valor related (I think those people should be beaten, often) but growing up a kid in my classes claimed through junior high that on weekends he went to a local country radio station to "sing backup vocals". He seemed to not realize that the stuff they play on the radio is a recording. :lol:

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A manager at a place I worked was regaling me with a story to set me straight about something (I dont like to back down when it comes to do the job right the first time) when he compared something to being in combat in Vietnam. I did not serve my country like the fine men and women who did (& do) but that seemed to be making light of a much more serious situation.

 

Lost all respesct for the man when I found out later he never served in the services.

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Didn't realize that military impersonation was that big of a phenomenon i agree with Mike I hope these people get their ass beat.

 

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

 

It's common enough that many of us (veterans and non-veterans alike) eventually become cynical when we encounter a "hero" on the streets. Most of the true heroes I've met, like MAJ Alfred Rascon, don't play up their own service. Most of the recent Medal of Honor recipients have stated that they consider the Medal to have been earned by their comrades--they just wear it to honor that that are no longer here.

 

Compare that to the "Vietnam Green Beret veteran" who can talk all day about his time in the 'Nam, but who pulls the "classified info" card when pressed for details as to unit or area of service. The whole classifed charade is also pulled by many who claim valor awards they never earned. I hate doing so, but nowadays I question most people who claim a Bronze Star with "V" or higher, or who claim to be a memver of an elite unit like the SEALs or Special Forces. The few veterans I've met who told me they were cooks or admin clerks usually go unquestioned; after all, who would brag about doing a necessary job that involves little glamour?

 

If you get a chance, peruse some of the military blogs or Google "phony vet". Some recent examples include http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/americas-got-talent-timothy-michael-poe-combat-record_n_1573384.html, a former contestant on "America's Got Talent"; http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2013/02/former-marine-admits-to-making-up-brain-injury-to-defraud-charities.html and http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=33502, two phonies who used their status as "wounded veterans" to help them enter golf tournaments; and http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_22514637/experts-weigh-ike-densmore-case-military-blogger-who, a recently deceased "SEAL" who even tried to mislead the investigation into his own death.

 

 

EDIT: Halfway fixed the links, tried using BBCode at first, guess it don't work.

A manager at a place I worked was regaling me with a story to set me straight about something (I dont like to back down when it comes to do the job right the first time) when he compared something to being in combat in Vietnam. I did not serve my country like the fine men and women who did (& do) but that seemed to be making light of a much more serious situation.

 

Lost all respesct for the man when I found out later he never served in the services.

 

I once worked with a number of supposed vets. One was a retired Marine who claimed to havve served in Force Recon during Vietnam. I still knid of believe him to this day (though I haven't seen him in some fifteen years). Another was a Green Beret assigned o MACV-Saigon. I believe him 100%, mainly because he didn't try to regale me with stories of combat; he blatantly admitted that he'd been a staff wienie most of his time there. Yet another claimed to have been a SEAL with a tour in Vietnam in 1973. I was 19 back then and gullible but since then have been pretty skeptical. When I was on recruiting duty I met a number of possible phonies who failed to impress me. Again, I hate being so cynical, but phonies are a dime a dozen, and wearing a uniform or anything identifying yourself as a vet brings them out in droves.

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I have heard some stories that I didn't believe. I never enlisted, but was literally a pen stroke away when I decided to explore the other branches. After getting an Army recruiter to admit he was lying to me about opportunities to get me to enlist(that was a proud moment, lol), it slowly turned me off. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but joining just didn't seem like what I was supposed to do, (which has always bafffled me a little why I didn't, I have had people assume I was in at one point). I always told my wife if something crazy that was an immenent threat to the USA I would join.....but have since learned I have an injury(basically a broken back....lol thats why it has hurt for so long!) that means I will never serve and may not have even been able to enlist after the age of 19 when I think it happened(it could have happened sooner but I don't remember pain starting until an injury, ironically, that I got at a federal gov job! I dealt with it for years and just learned how bad it was last year)

 

I don't know what to think, but had a guy that swears he was in SEAL 6 about 20 years before the guy that is credited to making it said it started. This was well before the team was famous for killing Bin Laden.

 

I had a grandpa that got a bronze star(at Normandy I believe), A father that served in Vietnam(and doesn't really say much about it), and an Uncle that retired from the Army and was a paratrooper in 'Nam. And ancestors with records showing their fight in wars back to the Civil War and farther.

 

I think these liars are trying to steal the glory from those who actually earned it. And the rules seems to be from my experiences, the more they claim and boast, the less they did and experienced.

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It goes with being in the military. You will always have people that try to act as "tough" as you etc. I normally just play along as I really don't have to prove anything to anybody. I just tell people I have had some "significant emotional events" and I am glad I can laugh about them today. Or when it's a crappy day or situation I will say well at least I am not getting shot at, it's not 100 +, and I'm not wearing my body armor. Other Vets will embellish their stories and that's cool, as long as we are all in the Tall tails! Just being older now and hitting 18 yearsTIS, it does not bother me personally as it did when I was younger. I just think people that have to lie about it, must have a pretty sad life.

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Last summer there was a homeless guy staying out in the abandoned Athena missile range, and myself & several others tried to give him a hand on getting out of being homeless. To the point that we recognized his mental illness issues and arranged (at no cost to us or him) for counseling and we were in the process of helping him find a place to call home. That ended quick when he started claiming to be an Army vet, mirroring only what he had learned from another local that had helped him. After that no one would help him and many of the local businesses 86'd him.

 

Ya can't claim to be something ya ain't and expect to get away with it.

He nearly got his butt kicked a few times after his claim.

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I think these liars are trying to steal the glory from those who actually earned it. And the rules seems to be from my experiences, the more they claim and boast, the less they did and experienced.

 

True, I've heard Special Forces vets brag about going into bars "posing" as support MOS'. Those that have no need to elaborate usually keep their deeds to themselves. Sorry to hear about your injury, as for the Recruiter that lied to you, that hardly suprises me. I spent three years on recruiting and tol myself from the get-go that I planned to keep my integrity and my rank. I was nowhere near successful out there, but those that I put in were not mislead or tricked into joining.

It goes with being in the military. You will always have people that try to act as "tough" as you etc. I normally just play along as I really don't have to prove anything to anybody. I just tell people I have had some "significant emotional events" and I am glad I can laugh about them today. Or when it's a crappy day or situation I will say well at least I am not getting shot at, it's not 100 +, and I'm not wearing my body armor. Other Vets will embellish their stories and that's cool, as long as we are all in the Tall tails! Just being older now and hitting 18 yearsTIS, it does not bother me personally as it did when I was younger. I just think people that have to lie about it, must have a pretty sad life.

 

Embellishing is one thing, but I cannot believe or understand the bold-faced lies some vets and non-vets tell. There is a big difference between a bona fide combat veteran who shares stories of derring-do after a few drinks (we all know that alcohol usually distorts facts) and a complete phony who has never experienced combat. Of course, that same combat veteran becomes no better than a non-vet phony when he starts claiming awards and actions that aren't his. Heck, I've shared stories of my unit's actions after a few too many beers, but I've yet to throw on a Silver Star or claim the same.

 

Last summer there was a homeless guy staying out in the abandoned Athena missile range, and myself & several others tried to give him a hand on getting out of being homeless. To the point that we recognized his mental illness issues and arranged (at no cost to us or him) for counseling and we were in the process of helping him find a place to call home. That ended quick when he started claiming to be an Army vet, mirroring only what he had learned from another local that had helped him. After that no one would help him and many of the local businesses 86'd him.

 

Ya can't claim to be something ya ain't and expect to get away with it.

He nearly got his butt kicked a few times after his claim.

 

There were a number of homeless people at the same reunion I met the phony Wall That Heals driver at. The location was at the levy in downtown Baton Rouge, so it didn't surprise us. One of the homeless guys there approached me and told me he had been a member of 3/187 Infantry (the "Rakkasans", best known for the Batttle of Hamburger Hill) in Vietnam. That was my first unit (way after Vietnam, of course), so I gave him five dollars to help him catch a bus to the veteran's hospital. The guy had a hernia that protruded a few inches from his belly and claimed he was trying to get it operated on. A couple of hours later I noticed a scuffle, and later found out that the head of security (a Chief Petty Officer Master-at-Arms in the Navy) had tossed the same guy out. He'd been walking around trying to bum money and alcohol off of people for the previous few hours.

 

A little while later the bum came back to me (I was set up on the levy outside of the inner perimeter of the event) and pitched his story again, though this time he was a bit inebriated and acted like he hadn't talked to me earlier. His story of being a Rakkasan suddenly evolved into being "101st Airborne-Delta Force", and he boasted of "letting" security toss him out because he didn;t want to hurt anyone. Being a nice guy, not to mention in uniform and representing the US Army, I let him talk until the CPO noticed and started walking towards us. The bum made a quick split then and hovered around down the levy away from the reunion for the next few hours.

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I've been homeless before, most recently was last year. Hey, it happens. But I am the one that decides if I let it control me or me control it. And sometimes there is nothing you can do but "sit it out". Last time I was homeless for over a year. Having been homeless I knew what actions to take to prevent as much damage as possible. And thank God it worked. Most importantly, dump the addictions. Some people can't, and I feel so sorry for them, because those have a strong chance of preventing them from getting a decent home. I faced (and still do, somewhat) a culture clash- I went straight from being homeless to owning a really nice well built & up to code home. The first month was the hardest. Man, I can't really describe it!

 

With that said, if they want out, they can get themselves out of it. Yeah it can be hard. Yeah, I had a few aces up my sleeve from previous experience. But when a homeless person claims to be a vet, I'm sorry but I gotta draw the line. I was Army, but I won't help Army vets more than I will civies. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Damn them, they have the training to survive. Most civies do not. If they were dumb enough to get an addiction to drugs or booze, well, I can't be a hard nose about it, but they had the training to know how to avoid it. Again, something civies don't have.

 

I'll help civilian homeless people whenever I can. They often times don't know what resources that are out there to help them. Vets, unless they were DD, BCD or improperly discharged, they know enough about the resources that they know where to start looking. That's why I'll help a civy first. I'll help a vet, don't get me wrong. I'll help anyone that I have the capability of helping.

 

That homeless guy I was talking about though, he was habitual through and through.

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Don't let the dirtbags let you down. I know what I did, and if someone really pushes it, I will put them in their place. But I have come to realize these losers are just that losers, and pretty much everybody knows it. Just move out and draw fire.

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i wish i had a dollar for every guy i met that was SF, rescue swimmer, or a seal. i worked with a guy that claimed he went on raids (he was S4 supply) in 101st. He wore a ranger tab and a CAB, but he once asked me about convoy ops, and coord n search. Never really understood why people lie. All the combat arms guys I know base your worth on performance, not what you have done.

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