Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Poser Alert!!

February 4th, 2009 Posted in The SandGram v1.0



There is a phenomenon out there of “POSERS” who claim to have served in the military or claim rights to certain medals they have never earned. Just driving home yesterday, I heard on Paul Harvey of a College professor who as an Army Veteran, claimed over the years that he had earned three purple hearts in battle during the Vietnam War in the late sixties. It turned out that he had served but was stationed over in Germany and Kansas during his time in the Army. Now he is facing federal charges under the “Stolen Valor” law prohibiting someone from claiming entitlements or presenting medals that he or she didn’t earn.



This has been going on for as long as Napoleon has been awarding medals of Valor to his troops and it’s not something only found in the U.S. but all across the world. As I sat at the table today, putting together a new set of ribbons reflecting the awards I earned over Afghanistan, my wife asked why I was spending so much time carefully consulting manuals on the proper display of my personal awards. I told her that it was because others would look at the little pieces of ribbons on my chest and know where and what I have done. She asked if people put medals on their chest that they didn’t deserve and I replied “Yes, they do it all the time, but when they are found out in the military, it becomes a possible discipline case or if they are civilians, a possible jail sentence.”



Over the years, I have seen different occasions where someone has claimed something they didn’t earn.  The first case involved another Marine Officer I went to flight school with named “Tom Hoy” a person I truly believe has some mental problems that include illusions of grandeur. When I first met this officer, we were waiting in the “pool” a term used to describe people waiting around to attend a future class. Sometimes this “pool” could last days, or sometimes weeks. When I first met Tom on a Wed, we were both First Lieutenants and I introduced myself to him as “Taco” and he as “Tom.” On the following Friday night a few days later, I ran into him out in town while playing pool with my girlfriend. I couldn’t remember his name at the time and said something along the lines of “Hey Dude, what was your name again?” On Monday, starting my ground school class, there was newly promoted Captain Hoy, turns out he was an air traffic control officer before getting switched over to a pilot class and he proceeded to ream me a new rear for calling him “Dude” it’s either Captain Hoy or Sir. I bit my lip and went on to class after my run in with him. The only saving grace was another Captain in the class who came up to me and said “hey don’t mind Tom, he pretty full of himself and when we are in the cockpit, you can call me Scott.”



During flight training as a student, all the young pilots wore the standard issued brown leather flight jacket (that’s all we had) and all the instructors would wear the green nomex fire proof jackets they were issued in the fleet. Tom had one of these and he had a leather patch on the front that said “Captain Hoy USMC with a pair of wings with the middle rubbed out enough that at first glance, you would have thought he was an instructor pilot, when in fact they were Naval Observer wings that are given to someone who normally flew in the back of an OV-10 Bronco plane. Tom claimed that he was a “Fast FAC” forward air controller, who flew in the back of A-4’s at Cherry Point. He may in fact have conned a ride in the back of a jet, but that was probably the extent to his observing…



Fast forward to after our winging in Corpus Christi while we were going through C-130 training with the Air Force in Little Rock. One day, Scott, who was a former Inspector General Officer as a grunt, myself and two other first Lt’s were going out to dinner. We stop by Tom’s room in the BOQ to invite him to go with us. He was still getting dressed and asked us in to wait. Scott, looking around, spy’s a bunch of 4×6 photos of Tom at a wedding that he had attended a few weeks prior. He was wearing his Dress Blues with his Gold Naval Aviator Wings and below a pair of the Naval Observer Wings to boot. He also had a Navy Commendation medal with a Gold star (meaning that he had two) and a Navy Achievement Medal with one or two other medals mixed in. His Officer Qualification Record was sitting on top of his dresser and Scott started thumbing through the record nosing around. In his prior life as a grunt, it was his job to inspect record books to ensure they were updated etc, so next thing we know, as Tom is in the bathroom, Scott is holding up the photo and flipping pages in the record jacket. When Tom comes out of the head, he sees Scott digging into his stuff and comes over in a hurry.



We ended up in the middle of a Captain to Captain argument over why he was wearing awards and devices that were not listed in his record jacket. When called on the carpet about the Wings, he made up some excuse about how he used to fly with the A-4 Squadron and the C.O. said “if this guy is going to fly with us, put a pair of wings on his chest.” Scott corrected him and said, “Tom, you only rate these wings if you attended the school, not because the CO said to put a pair of wings on your chest. Also what about this Navy Comm, it’s not in here anywhere.” That is when Tom basically kicked us out of his room. We never saw him wear the Observer Wings again or some of the medals that were in the photo.


A year later, we were having a real I.G. inspection at our Squadron and we were all required to wear different uniforms for an inspection down in the hanger bay. Tom was wearing his Dress Blues, me in my Green Alfa’s, Tony in his Dress Whites, etc. As we were waiting for our turn to assemble down stairs, I made a snide remark about how Tom’s chest was lacking all of the medals we had seen before. Tom didn’t say anything or reply, he looked at the female Warrant Officer who was in charge of S-1 and excused himself. Two days later I was called into the CO’s office and he began to ask me all sorts of questions. Basically Tom had told the W.O. that I hated him so much that I had altered his awards page removing his medals. I was shocked and speechless at what he was implying. The CO was serious as I was read my rights under the UCMJ. I begin to describe the different events over the past year and a half dealing with this psychopath and told him to call Captain Babor up to his office to back up my half of the stories. Scott was around that day and when called into the CO’s office, backed up everything I said telling him how he personally had looked over Tom’s OQR that day in Little Rock and there were no awards there that he claimed he had plus his wearing of the Observer Wings all through flight school. More things started to come out on this Officer as the different pieces of the puzzle were examined. He ended up being transferred to another Squadron and put into a minor job and eventually he got out of the Corps not long after.



Now picture this, a few years ago, I’m standing at the gate at a major airport, pulling up paperwork for the flight when this gentleman comes up to me and says ” I noticed the Marine Pin on your tie, I was in the Army in VN. I normally don’t bring this up, but I’m a Medal of Honor winner and I only say this because sometimes folks will upgrade me to first class.” I chatted with him and gave him the respect of being someone who might be who he claims. I then called my buddy Parker Perkins, a stock broker and who is on the computer 24/7  and asked him to look this guy up for me (thought it was my Mom who has helped out numerous other times, but this was indeed Parker this time). He couldn’t find him anywhere on the Medal of Honor site that lists every MOH citation that has been awarded in all the different services. I then went back to the lobby asked the guy are you talking about “The MOH??? The highest medal awarded?” He said yes and I told him that I couldn’t find his write up on the MOH site and that is when the BS started flowing…Oh it wouldn’t be there b/c I was Special Forces on a SECRET MISSION that is still classified to this day (sounds like he was a member of the “A-Team” T.V. show)… I thanked him and told him that it didn’t look like there would be room in first. That night I sent a letter to the FBI agent that was on the link for MOH website and told him what happened, gave the guys name and address/phone number (had the gate agent pull his record) He emailed back and said they would try to lure him to a VFW to give a speech type thing and how these posers love the attention, from there he would arrest him if he showed up and with a fake medal or claimed to have been awarded one.



The men who sacrificed everything during their time in service and earned their medals are reluctant hero’s and will be the most humble men you will have ever met. The Posers who steal this honor for their own self serving honor need to be thrown in jail. So in the course of your travels, watch out for the guy pitching these false claims because in this day and age of support for the troops, there are a few bad apples (Military and non-Military) that are taking advantage of the kindness of everyday good hearted Americans. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or other Mil bloggers, they can do some digging and find out if there is some grain of truth in what the person is saying and who to contact in your local area.

Semper Fi,


Tags: , ,