“It is appalling that anyone would ever fraudulently claim to
have received such a tremendous honor. By doing so, these
impostors seek to detract recognition from the brave men and
women who have heroically served our nation. I look forward to
working with Mr. Sterner and others to see that a system is put
in place to deter false claims by recording all true recipients
of this award.”
REP. DOUG LAMBORN, R-COLO, Armed Forces & Veterans Affairs
And the Problem with using
them for verification
The DD-214 (or corrected
DD-215), is a resume of military service. The form contains the
veteran's name, when and where they entered service and were
discharged, the nature of discharge, MOS (Military Occupational
Specialty), Special Schools attended, decorations earned, etc. The
ONLY information on a DD-214 that is NOT publicly releasable
information is the Social Security Number and Date of Birth of the
Veteran. (Prior to 1968 the military used SERVICE NUMBERS, which
ARE releasable, but after converting in 1968 to using the SSN,
this information is usually blacked out on a distributed DD-214.
"Let me see your
DD-214," is a common request. One hears it when:
* A Veteran applies for V.A.
* A Veteran applies at DMV to get
special plates for their car
* A Veteran applies for membership
in a Veterans' Organization
* The medals worn/claimed are in
the election of 2006 Ed Moore, former Boone County (KY) Republican
Party Chairman, ran for City Clerk, touting his status as a
Vietnam War veteran who served more than TWO YEARS in Vietnam.
When questions arose about his status as a combat veteran, Mr.
Moore posted his DD-214 on line in his campaign website to verify
his service in Vietnam. (Click on copy at right for a larger
fact, Mr. Moore DID serve in the Army during the Vietnam era but
he served only seven days overseas - all in Europe - while he was
in the Army. One of the first tip-offs for me when I was sent Mr.
Moore's DD-214 shown above was that he mis-spelled the Vietnam
Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal as "Metals." A
FOIA request by Mary Schantag revealed the TRUE nature of his
service (at right).
exposure Mr. Moore apologized for his crime and withdrew from the
political race. Despite his withdrawal from the race, he still won
11,167 votes, just 118 fewer than his Democratic opponent.
Apparently the local voters didn't think claiming to be a Vietnam
Veteran was that serious a crime. The courts did! Moore pleaded
"Guilty" to a single count of fraud for altering his
military discharge record to falsely show the in-country record.
In exchange, prosecutors recommended the community service - 350
hours in the next year at a veterans hospital or nursing home.
this age of Computer generated documents, it is a very easy
matter to alter or even to create from scratch, a bogus DD-214. At
the right is a DD-214 sent by Lloyd Keith Mitchell to the young
woman to whom he was proposing marriage. Mitchell is reportedly a
commercial airline pilot (cargo) and former NRA Instructor. In
addition to this DD-214 which shows he graduated from the U.S.
Naval Academy and earned TWO Navy Crosses, he provided the
citation for ONE of those awards. When I received it I checked it
against my database and found it to be word-for-word, save for the
name, the LEGITIMATE Navy Cross Citation for the award presented
to then Congressman Randall Duke Cunningham. Prior to the
Stolen Valor Act what Mr. Mitchell had done was NOT illegal--his
altered DD-214 was NOT used (to our knowledge, to obtain VA
benefits or for other fraudulent financial gain. (Those who
understand awards will find interesting that he lists his TWO Navy
Crosses and TWO Silver Stars as "w/Clusters"--the Army
and AF use an "Oak Leaf Cluster" to indicate a second
award, while the Navy and Marine Corps use a "Gold Star"
in lieu of a second award.
In our page on V.A.
Fraud you will find that such bogus DD-214s and other
discharge paperwork are ACCEPTED at V.A. facilities as evidence of
service, wounds, even former Prisoner of War Status. Some of the
cases cited there are linked to images of the forged documents.
On December 8, 2005, the Northwest
Herald announced, "(Illinois) Secretary of State Jesse
White wants Marengo Alderman Werner "Jack" Genot to be
the last person in Illinois to acquire military license plates
falsely. Angered by Genot's confession that he acquired Purple
Heart and ex-POW license plates with forged discharge papers,
White announced Wednesday that he would submit legislation to the
General Assembly next month to make the act a Class A misdemeanor
punishable by a $1,000 fine..... " The Rockford
Register-Star wrote: "A Marengo alderman, exposed last
week for fabricating a military record, attended counseling
sessions here that are supposed to be for veterans who have seen
combat and struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Jack
Genot, 71, went to meetings at the Vet Center Outstation in
Rockford under the guise that he was a prisoner of war as a Marine
in Korea in the early 1950s."
For half-a-century Jack
Genot was the "face of the Marine Corps League" in
his home town, a vaunted hero of the Korean War where he was
captured (at the Chosin Reservoir) and held as a Prisoner of War.
His vehicles had BOTH "Prisoner of War" and "Purple
Heart" license plates. In FACT, Mr. Genot served in the Army,
NEVER in the Marine Corps, NEVER served in Korea, and received a
less-than-honorable discharge. Illinois has passed its own state
version of the Stolen Valor Act to make it illegal to fraudulently
obtain POW/Purple Heart license plates, but that is only going to
be effective for those who are caught. Meanwhile, without an
official database and as long as a DD-214 is accepted proof, no
doubt many more like Mr. Genot will be driving around Illinois.
TOPEKA, Kan. -- A Marine veteran from Kansas was sentenced
to 16 months in jail for falsely claiming he received the Purple
Heart for service in Iraq so he could get a special license plate.
And at his sentencing Tuesday, Timothy
Allen DeBusk was blasted by combat-wounded vets for staining
the honor reserved for those wounded or killed in action. DeBusk
pleaded guilty in September to fraudulently trying to obtain a
Purple Heart license plate for his car. DeBusk, 27, was a sergeant
when he was an active-duty Marine but was wasn't wounded while
serving in Iraq.
WHAT KIND OF MAN DOES THIS? DeBusk was also charged last
year with pulling over a car and flashing a badge identifying
himself as a federal law officer. He paid a $318 fine for
impersonating an officer.
Initial reports indicate that Michael
Fraser, referenced in our pages on Accuracy
in Media, is PAST COMMANDER of his local VFW Post. Reasonable
based upon his TWO distinguished and decorated tours of duty in
Vietnam. He is but one of perhaps thousands of members of such
organizations, often OFFICERS in such organizations, who obtain
membership based upon fraudulent information.
The NATIONAL LEGION OF VALOR is the
Congressionally Chartered organization for recipients of our top
VALOR Awards, the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross,
Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross. Full membership (there is an
Associate Membership for family members of recipients) is open
ONLY to recipients of those awards.
I am NOT a recipient of those awards or a member of LOV, they send
me their periodical publication each month. In the January 2007
issue LOV announced, among their other recently joined members,
the membership of World War II Navy Cross Marine Raymond Sawyer.
The announcement included his photo and citation. Upon finding Mr.
Sawyer was NOT in my own database of Navy Cross recipients, I
advised the Officers of the Legion of Valor that I suspected Mr.
Sawyer was a phony, and they immediately launched an
fact, Mr. Sawyer provided discharge records and citations to
verify his service and Navy Cross Award. One would think it an
easy matter to track, only some 7,000 Navy Crosses have been
awarded in history. In Mr. Sawyer's home town the newspaper
announced his acceptance into the Legion of Valor with, as you
will see from the link at right, a pretty impressive resume.
Getting a verification one way or the other
on Mr. Sawyer took THREE MONTHS and, by early May the FBI had
obtained Mr. Sawyer's REAL records (he did serve as a Marine,
received a slight wound in World War II but did NOT get the Navy
Cross), and planned to contact him and file charges as part of
their Memorial Day Blitz. When they went looking for him at
his home in Arvada, Colorado, he was nowhere to be found. Within
two days he was however located--in jail in Arizona. Seems that in
March detectives had contacted Mr. Sawyer about a Cold Case file
involving the death of his first wife nearly two decades earlier
and, in that interview, Mr. Sawyer finally confessed to murdering
Atlanta, Georgia, Richard Thibodeau was an honored member of the
Marine Corps League, recipient of the Navy Cross and numerous
other high awards. His citation was printed in dinner programs and
even hung in a place of honor at a local museum. In fact, Mr.
Thibodeau has never served in the Marine Corps--it was all
same was true with St. Louis, Missouri, purported Navy Cross
Recipient Michael Weilbacher, who was questioned about his awards
after someone at the local Marine Corps League felt something was
out of place. FBI agents verified that Weilbacher was NEITHER a Navy
Cross Recipient or a Former Marine. He was arrested by an FBI Agent,
who was himself a Former Marine, after being lead out of a Marine
Corps League meeting he was attending.
ABC NEWS reported on Weilbacher's arrest under
the headline: Fake
Marine -- Too Fat to Be Real.
ABC NEWS also reported on the exposure of another
Phony Marine, Gary Lakis, who was photographed with then-Marine
Corps Commandant General James Jones, and was awarded a
multi-million dollar contract to teach marines special warfare
operations, based upon his own combat record that had netted him the
Silver Star and multiple Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. In FACT,
Lakis did serve in the Marine Corps for 10 years, but never served
in combat, never heard a shot fired in anger, never earned the
Silver Star, Bronze Stars, or Purple Hearts that he wore on his
uniform to mark him as an experienced combat Marine. To see a VIDEO
NEWS REPORT on Mr. Lakis, go to the page above for Mr. Weilbacher
and click on the related link in that story titled: Video Fake
Medals, Phony Hero
If there was a national database of award recipients, no longer
would the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles ask someone
for a DD-214 in order to verify their entitlement to a Purple
Heart, POW, or other veteran-related license plate. Access to the
National Database would immediately verify qualifications, and
weed out phonies. The above are only a few examples of those
caught. We suspect there are THOUSANDS still out there who
continue to escape exposure for the lack of any National Database
Furthermore, a national database would
provide VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS like the VFW, American Legion,
Military Order of the Purple Heart, Legion of Valor, and others,
with an accurate measure of an applicant's qualifications to join