Stolen Valor, a lot more prevalent than you even know
I could fill this blog with Stolen Valor every day. Literally. Probably 3-4 posts a day of guys busted. But I don't, for two reasons. One is just that after a while, it gets old. They are all horrible people who I believe steal valor from my friends who truly acted heroically. I didn't do anything heroic, but I did my job. I'm proud of what I did. I didn't do it great, but I did it when others didn't. The second reason, and more pertinent lately, is that I am getting sued all over the country for outting these guys, and I get a lot of death threats. Not your run of the mill type "I'm going to kill you" type stuff, I had one guy who went so far as to get the floor plans to my house, and then went into graphic detail about what he would do to me, my wife, and my then unborn daughter. I sleep with an M4 next to my bed now, and my body armor right next to that. It's not the way a man who returned from a war zone wants to live, but I don't have many options.
The lawsuits suck. Thankfully I have the best employer in the world, and they take valor thieves seriously. So, while I pay a price mentally and emotionally, and have to be hypervigiliant, I at least am not having to get a second mortgage on my house to defend myself, nor worry about all the complaints they lodge against me. Just the same, it's tough at times.
My friend Jonn Lilyea has no such compunctions. He's lost a lot of friends, and he's busted more people than I can even keep count of. Just go to THIS LINK here and start scrolling. That's Jonn's work. Thousands of phonies busted, with help from others like Stolen Valor Facebook, Guardians of Valor and others. Many of the phonies are now in jail, others are still pulling their scams. Last week I spent time with Jonn in DC, and we talked about the importance of what we do, and how we wish that we didn't have to do it. It takes time, it takes money, and it takes its toll. But to both of us, it's also vital work. It's basically what the Legion's preamble discusses when we recite
FOR GOD AND COUNTRY WE ASSOCIATE OURSELVES TOGETHER FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES...
To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars...
The corollary to preserving those memories is making sure that the fake stories are corrected. If everyone had the Medal of Honor, the 78 or so living recipients Medals would mean much less in terms of being National Treasures (which they are to me.) It's a simple form of economics. If the supply is unlimited, the value of each individual Medal is that much less. And I have friends who have received that Medal. Ryan Pitts, a dear friend who is my personal hero. Sal Giunta who is one of my favorite people in the world to enjoy a beer with. And Kyle White who I had the pleasure of playing some leisurely (and poor) golf with earlier this year. And those I've met in the past, like Peter Lemon, a recipient from Viet Nam who was a Canadian at the time and was gracious enough to spend some time talking to me. And Hiroshi Miyamura, who sent me a copy of his book today. And Walter Ehlers, who received his Medal on D-Day, and passed away earlier this year. I spent a night at a bar with him, and will always cherish that memory.
Anyway, my point is that busting these guys is tough at times in terms of what we have to go through. And it's not just a few folks doing this. Jonn Lilyea busted 4 guys, JUST TODAY (with help from others in the cause.) Here's a snippet from each:
He is a pilot for these Che Bella Tours people and he claims that he was an Air Force pilot who flew in Desert Storm, so you’re in good hands. Or maybe not – the National Personnel Records Center says that he was a plumber and a helicopter mechanic for five months in the National Guard until he was placed on Inactive Reserve status for the remainder of his term – through Desert Storm. He might have gone through flight training, but it was private training and he wasn’t an Air Force pilot, according to the NRPC.
The folks at Military Phonies sent us their work on this Kenneth Malone fellow. Apparently he used to be friends with Manuel Ocasio-Reyes, one of the original Stolen Valor Act busts. In the linked story about Ocasio-Reyes, it mentions Malone as a Purple Heart recipient.
Malone is the Quartermaster of VFW Post 4412 in Hudson, Florida, and a member of the local Marine Corps League. He wears the Navy-Marine Corps Medal, which is the equivalent to the Soldiers Medal – awarded for heroism in situations not involving an armed enemy. He also thinks he’s a corporal of Marines.
It looks like he served in combat in Vietnam, he has the Combat Action Ribbon, but there are no Purple Hearts, no Navy-Marine Medal, and he was discharged as a Private First Class (E-2), not a Corporal of Marines. His VFW post is aware of his embellishments, but they’re fine with having a liar as a quartermaster.
Someone sent us their work on this Robert Guidi fellow who claims that he was Special Forces in Vietnam and yet another POW. Here is his bio from when he received recognition from his home county, Morris County, New Jersey;
Pretty impressive, eh? [....]
he National Personnel Records Center differs on his career, too. They say that he wasn’t a Master Sergeant (he was a Master Private First Class), no Purple Hearts, no Silver Star. He served as a postal clerk in an Administrative Company in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam after a tour in Germany as a truck driver and a clerk.
Someone sent us their work on this George Reece fellow, who was on an Honor Flight to the Vietnam Memorial last Veterans Day. The news folks took down the story before I could screen shot it, but I found enough of the article for you to get the gist of it;
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Army veteran George Reece was just 21 years old when he spent a year in captivity in Vietnam.
He and three other soldiers were heading out to another camp when it all happened.
“We went in, found it,” Reece says. “We got captured, stayed POW for a year, we finally escaped. All of us escaped and got out.”
Not wanting to recount those traumatizing moments, he says he lost 65 pounds during that year.
Thankful to be alive, he says looking at the long list of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial makes him so emotional, because he sees names of people he once knew so well.
Of course, the first place we look is at DPAA;
No Reece was not a POW in Vietnam. So we ordered his records and he was indeed a Vietnam veteran...He was an artilleryman in Headquarters and Service Battery of the 8th Battalion, 6th Artillery which was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Unless you think it’s Special Forces;
One day, four different Stolen Valor guys.
Any of them might turn around and sue Jonn. They won't win, because he has all the documentation, but do you know how difficult it is working your way through the legal system? It's expensive, and it is tiring.
But if we don't do it, who will?
Go and click the links and look at some of these people. Try to explain to me why whatever you did in the service isn't worthy enough of honor that you have to make things up. Be proud of what you are, not ashamed of what you have to lie about.
People say that Stolen Valor is a victimless crime. Tell that to the person who got bumped from a valor flight for a guy with a phony POW story. Tell that to the people who honor these people, only to find out they lied about the whole thing.
The cost of doing nothing is too great a cost.