Friday, January 08, 2010

UFOs and Stolen Valor

I was searching the web the other night and came across an interview with a man I had written about in the past. He was not pleased with my assessment of his tale and wondered why I had not contacted him before I posted it. I was a little disturbed by his comments and then realized that I was suggesting he had been less than candid about his UFO involvement and he certainly had the right to feel annoyed. Of course, I believed then what I written and I have seen nothing in the last several years to change that opinion.

The point is that I find myself in a similar position today. I have been researching, for the last year, a story told by a man who claimed to be a retired Air Force colonel. Based on his supposed high rank, I accepted the story he told as authentic. I believed that a man who had obtained high military rank wouldn’t be lying about something like this... but that was before Philip Corso entered the picture and proved me wrong.

In this case, however, the man had not been a high-ranking Air Force officer as claimed and the only record of military service I could find was a short period starting in December 1945 and ending in January 1947. This would technically make him a veteran of World War II, though he entered the service after the surrenders of Germany and Japan. The war wasn’t declared officially over until some time in 1946.

He claimed that he had been an Air Force fighter pilot, but I could find no record to substantiate this, and if he wasn’t a fighter pilot, then his tale of a UFO crash was no longer credible. He had been, according to him, flying a chase plane during some kind of a bomber mission when he saw the UFO. But if he wasn’t a fighter pilot, then the reason for him being where he claimed to be was eliminated and his tale collapsed.

I did learn that he had a long association with the Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the Air Force, but that is a civilian, volunteer organization. I don’t know if Air Force personnel, who can also serve in the CAP, receive retirement points for that service. If so, I suppose he could claim some kind of lengthy Air Force service, but the truth is, he wasn’t in the Air Force as claimed, nor in the Air Force Reserve, so the point is moot.

According to documentation, he rose to lieutenant colonel in the CAP, but again, that is not the same as being a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. When questioned about his service, he provided several photographs and documents, but all of them related to the Civil Air Patrol. I have never seen a picture of him in an Air Force uniform, though it is clear from the photographs supplied that he was attempting to mask his CAP service by making alterations to the uniform.

I have since been given some documents that suggest service in the Air Force, but these came from the man, and I have been unable to verify their authenticity. I believe one of them to be a forgery and not a very clever one at that.

So, who is this guy you ask? This is where the trouble arises. In 2005 the US Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act which makes it a crime to wear ribbons or medals not earned. I have two pictures of him and in each he is wearing medals for which I can find no documentation. He is wearing an officer’s uniform and he is claiming to have served in the Air Force, either on active duty or the reserve long enough to have earned a pension. He claims it was denied because he talked to civilians about UFOs.

To identify this man now, who is 84 and whose health isn’t all that great, would be to bring addition attention and pressure to him. This is something that I’m not sure I want to do...

On the other hand, I understand the anger of veterans toward those who didn’t serve, or served in a limited way but who claim great things. One estimate, published in Military History magazine this month suggests there are 26 million people claiming to be veterans who are not. Thousands have received veteran benefits to which they were not entitled, taking money from the veterans who had earned it. I have seen men, and a few women, interviewed about their service, making claims that then tarnish the reputations of all of us who did serve.

But this guy is old, sick, and his family is not nearby. At the moment, nothing is gained by identifying him, at least in my mind. His story, however, does have a great impact on some avenues of UFO research, and that will be explored a little later.

16 comments:

Paul Kimball said...

Hi Kevin,

Identify him, and bury him.

He deserves nothing else but public scorn.

Paul

Sarge said...

Over the years I have met several who claimed to have served. Most expose themselves when you ask specific questions that a veteran of the action should remember.
This used to make me so angry I couldn't see straight so to speak. But as I get older I guess I have gotten soft. As long as it is no more than someone telling the local kids some "War Stories", with no attempt to gain anything more than some reflected glory I don't care anymore.
It does seem odd that my generation hid our service for so long to avoid the smears of the media, and now people will actually lie to get the attention we didn't want.

Lance said...

This is very interesting, Kevin and I appreciate your thoughtful attitude about it.

For me this underlines the fact that the world is crawling with people willing to lie without obvious motivation or reward, a fact usually denied or minimized by UFO supporters (until the liar is exposed).

So many of the Roswell witnesses (I believe ALL of the supposed "direct" body witnesses) are this sort of person.

To a skeptic, an uncontrolled willingness to believe is the Achilles heel of the paranormal. And it is the means of existence for the tall tale teller.

Lance

starman said...

"...the world is crawling with people willing to lie without obvious motivation or reward..."

But the motivation here is obvious. It is prestigious to be a veteran. Generally, society looks up to those who served, often at great personal risk. It can help one's career. Telling UFO tales is entirely different. It can get someone a lot of attention but it invites ridicule.

cda said...

"Military History" says there may be 26 million false claimants to be veterans? That sounds an incredible number to me. How many true veterans are there in the US? And how many still alive? A wild estimate maybe. Having said that, I am in no position to disprove it.

If that figure is anything like accurate it does not speak well for the average US citizen's trustworthiness or honesty.

KRandle said...

CDA -

Two quick points... Military History said there are 26 million real veterans and just as many fakers out there. A look at sites that track Stolen Valor, exposes many of them. Gerald Anderson is found on a couple of them.

In the 1990 US census, there was a question about being a Vietnam Veteran. According the the information supplied by B. G. Burkett, 13 million said they had served in Vietnam yet the figures from the Pentagon suggested there were only about 3 million veterans who actually set foot in country.

RRRGroup said...

One UFO braggart says he has a bronze star for serving in Vietnam but no record of it appears anywhere.

Rossome said...

The UFO community places so much emphasis on the credibility of the witness. We endow such credibility readily to pilots, military, law enforcement, astronauts, scientists, etc. In addition, those who have "paranormal" experiences are automatically treated with skepticism, ridicule, and doubt. Is it any wonder that people desiring to be heard and recognized might bend the truth, add elements, or even flat out fabricate as a means to this end?
So who knows? His UFO experience may be exactly as he described . . . or not. As discordant as his "AF Officer story" is, it may or may not have any bearing on his experience. As humans we all desire to be honored, appreciated, listened to, and loved. However, most of us do not know how to go about achieving this.
I go to the opposite extreme and rarely if ever mention my 25 yrs in the military or background in intelligence to achieve "credibility" when doing talks, workshops, and conferences. Am I any more or less credible? Those who are willing to listen will and those who aren't won't. Discerning the veracity of what is shared is up to each of us, regardless of the circumstances.

Anyway, just a "Different Perspective".

Alfred Lehmberg said...

I suspect, Richy, a due diligence, of which you have always shown you are _incapable_, must show that said "UFO braggart" is without the Bronze Star Medal claimed... or you continue your slander per se.

Crap artist... this is a negative you could prove! See, a records brief must exist for this "braggart." If you were a fraction of the investigator you _pretend_ to be, you would produce that brief, expose him to a public scorn richly (pun intended) deserved, and in the words of the irrepressible Mr. Kimball, bury him.

Instead you must bang mendaciously mossy gums together in the usual literary impotence and bury yourself, it would seem. C'mon, be the little investigator that could... FIND THAT BRIEF!

...Crap artist.

John said...

There was no US Air force before Sep 1947.

KRandle said...

Rossome -

Let's see if I understand this. You see a flying saucer but think no one will believe you so you make up a story about being a high-ranking officer or pilot so that you have some credibility... but if anyone checks, very simple in today's world, they'll find you lied about it. So, how does making up a military career help your credibility?

John - There was an Army Air Force in 1941 (which had been the Army Air Corps) so talking about the Air Force would not be inaccurate... though this guy claimed originally that he had been commissioned in the Army and transferred to the Air Force in 1950. I found no evidence of that either.

Rossome said...

Kevin - Not quite what I meant. People make up stuff about themselves to impress others or improve their status in their eyes. In many ways this is done all throughout our society, not just the military. Folks make up credentials in every facet of our culture (education, business, gov't, church, etc). Even accomplished people do this some times. In this gentleman's case he seems to have "stretched" the facts a bit with his Civil Air Patrol background. Why do you think he has done this? Does it invalidate his UFO story? You have shared your concern about his credibility, what more is there to do that is worth your time or energy?

Jum said...

I disagree with "being kind" and sitting on your information. Counterfeit servicemen and bogus heroes are the grossest insult to those who really did bear the burdens of military service and those who actually did perform heroically in the face of horror and death. These liars, however old and feeble they may now be, are a stench in the nostrils of truth and sacrifice. He has also committed an offense against the collective memory - call it history - when he pretends to have been what he wasn't and to have done what he did not do.

You obviously feel that by informing the proper authorities of his theft of honor that you will be unfairly harming the man. In truth you will be doing nothing to him: it is he who has taken all the countless steps of deceit and dishonesty to defraud history. Indeed, if you take no action, you will be making a choice: that the respect he stole and has enjoyed for decades is more important than the reputations and memories of those, living and dead, who have served and who have performed valorous deeds.

Finally, he has hurt those who want the truth about UFOs. He is just one more hoaxer of so very many, who by their falsehoods do so much damage to the credibility of true witnesses and experiencers. By not correcting the historical record when you can so very easily do so, you do a great disservice to all those who have suffered greatly for their courageous decision to come forward.

Please, this is not your decision to make. I was a federal prosecutor for over 25 years, and I am almost certain nothing will happen to this man other than the slight possibility he may be embarrassed - and that's his own doing. More than likely the matter will be completely ignored for the same reasons you are worried about turning him in. But they will determine if he has committed some wrongdoing; you don't have to.

But again, this is not your decision to make. You have no right to aid and abet him in his deceitful and dishonorable actions. Please don't allow him to continue to wear the brave deeds and honorable service of far better and more deserving men and women.


*I'd try the VA, but your unit admins would probably have a good lead on where to go

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

On the same topic, I was wondering if you ever came across Major Wayne S. Aho in your research?

I interviewed Aho several times while looking into Otis Carr. Major Aho claimed to been among those landing at Normandy but I remember that there was some doubt of any military service, I asked him about it and he promised to send me some documentation but never did.

In fact, I don't think Aho ever gave me much of anything of value to my Carr research except the name, Ralph Ring,

I interviewed Ring long before the embarrassing clowns at Project Camelot idd and he was a very nice and helpful man.

It is quite telling that Ring's story has changed considerably over time (I think I talked with him in the late 1990's). This is something I see all the time in UFO witnesses and something that most "researchers" seem woefully oblivious to: over time, witnesses tend to make their own role much more important and central to the event and they tend to greatly embellish the facts.

Maybe the same kind of thing happens with military charlatans?

Lance

stardad9591 said...

I don't know Kevin, do what you will concerning this because as you said, "what would be the point?"

Just an opinion from an old former Marine from the Cold War Era, 1977-1981, 1982-1984, MOS 0311/6112/6122.

Unfortunately I didn't see any UFOs when I was a CH46-E helicopter air crewman. Bummer.

~dad2059/stardad9591 aka Bryan Brown, Marine Corps Vet.

Feel free to Google.

BoyintheMachine said...

Be the better man. Wait until he passes and then expose his lies, but do so in a dignified manner, possibly even going as far as revealing the true man he was with an emphasis on his good works, to even out the negativity of his lies.