It has happened again in the world of the UFO. Another researcher, who talked of advanced degrees and of military service in the Special Forces has been found to have invented his background. Philip J. Imbrogno, who claimed a Ph. D. and service with the Army’s Green Berets had neither degree nor Special Forces training.
Lance Moody, who has appeared here in the past, wrote that he recently became interested in Imbrogna’s background and began a somewhat routine search to verify his credentials. Lance, on his web site at:
wrote, “Recently, I became interested in the claims of ‘respected’ UFO and paranormal author, Philip J. Imbrogno. Imbrogno has written many paranormal books. Perhaps his best known was the account of the Hudson Valley UFO sightings he co-authored with J. Allen Hynek.”
The information provided by Imbrogo on his web site claimed, “"Imbrogno holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics, astronomy and chemistry from the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2010 he was awarded a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from MIT. He is a staff member of the McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, Connecticut, and is a founder and former director of the Astronomical Society Of Greenwich, and former director of the Bowman Observatory."
As Moody noted, this suggested the Imbrogno, unlike so many others in the field, had a fine education and was a “real” scientist working in the paranormal arena. Radio show hosts often recited the information without bothering to check the validity of it (though I don’t really blame those hosts... they take the information supplied by the guest and because there are so many guests that it would be nearly impossible to check everything... besides, who would lie about something so easy to verify?).
Moody wrote, “A telephone conversation with the [MIT] office further determined that there has never been a student with the last name ‘Imbrogno’ attending classes at MIT. Wow. Can it really be that easy?”
The answer was, “Yes, it can be that easy.”
But Moody also received a written reply, which he published on his web site. No one by the name of Imbrogno had attended classes there. The registrar even checked on various spellings. Nothing.
Moody contacted Don Ecker of “Dark Matters” radio fame. Ecker said that he’d had Imbrogno on his radio show several times and when he and his wife, Vicki Ecker had been leading UFO, they’d published articles written by Imbrogno.
Ecker was somewhat skeptical of what Moody had found and cautioned that Moody had better be sure of his facts. I suggested the same thing. Be sure you’re right because you could cause yourself some real trouble.
But Moody had the goods. It made Ecker suspicious of Imbrogno. He wrote, “Then something else hit me. On the last two shows with Imbrogno he made a point of mentioning his ‘Viet Nam military service’ while a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Special Forces.”
This sent Ecker off in another direction. He began to investigate Imbrogno’s military claims. As with those from the academic world, Ecker was unable to verify that Imbrogno had ever served with the Army’s Special Forces.
Ecker sent a note to Imbrogno and a posted reply that sounded like Imbrogno that said, “One last thing Don, you are a great guy if you want my military record DD214. It will show I was a medic in the USAF and did a tour in indochina It might show I was attached to the army for a while I don't know when and where it was all pretty disorganized. I was part of a specialy trained group of medics (the first in line of what today is called a PA in medicine) Much more that a coreman [sic], more than a nurse, but less than a doctor. I was primarily stationed in Thailand, but was attached to a number of army units over the tour. I believe I was in every country in that area The hope was to increase the survival rate of the wounded getting aerovacted out. Get my DD214 it will show 90250 training... # I got punished and article 15 and had to run the VD clinic for a week.”
This answer is pretty disorganized and I’m not sure what to make of it. He is now suggesting he was a Air Force medic and was attached to the Army. While the Marines always use Navy “Corpsmen” (and wouldn’t he know how to spell it if he was a corpsman?) for their medics, the Army has had it’s own medics. It has no need to “borrow” them from the Air Force. And note that he has covered that by suggesting this service attached to the Army might not be reflected on his DD 214.
I’m not sure why Imbrogno doesn’t know what is on his DD 214. He should have received a copy when he left the service, and he would have been told that it was an important document. It is needed to apply for veteran’s benefits, some states use it to determine property tax reductions for veterans, and it is proof of military service.
Here’s where we are today. Imbrogno has dropped out of paranormal research, at least for the moment. One of his co-authors has severed her relation with him. He does not hold the academic honors he claimed and his military service was not with the Army’s Special Forces. He may or may not have served in Vietnam as a medic with the Air Force.
Don Ecker wrote, “As I was in the process of completing this report, no verification of Imbrogno serving in the U. S. Army’s Special Forces, much less MACV-SOG was found by the SF Association. Imbrogno offered no copies of his DD-214. (Military Separation documents.) Since this scandal broke he has with-drawn from paranormal research, changed his telephone number and gotten a new and covert email address. His former working partner, Ms. Rosemary E. Guiley has broken her working relationship from Imbrogno. The paranormal field has once again been given a huge black eye from another person that felt the need to lie … for whatever reason. Okay, this has happened in the past and will undoubtedly happen in the future. But there is more here than meets the eye if you stop to think about it.”
As Ecker suggested, this is just another black eye for the field. We have had a large number of these problems in the last few years and I suspect we’ll have more in the future. What we need to do is be sure that the people who have come forward to tell their tales and those who investigate them are who they claim to be. In today’s world it is very easy to verify claims and we should be doing so. It won’t stop this endless parade of fakers and phonies but it will limit the damage they cause. It will also mean that we can stop wasting our time and get on with the work that needs to be done.