Friday, December 14, 2007

Stolen Valor & Fabricated Lives

The temptation to embellish on one's military record can be overwhelming.

While I have never done so, there were times I found myself wishing that I had fought in Vietnam and not merely written about it, and for several years after I returned home I felt guilty for having made such a small sacrifice compared to friends who were killed or physically or emotionally scarred from combat.
This bring us to the story of Louis Lowell McGuinn, who came home from Vietnam a private but passed himself off as a lieutenant colonel who wore a dress blue uniform to fancy functions bemedaled with a Purple Heart, Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross, among other decorations he never got and didn't deserve.
McGuinn, 68, of Flushing, Queens, is among the first people to be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act, which became law in January.

McGuinn's trial was to begin in U.S. District Court in Manhattan yesterday, but he entered a guilty plea and his attorney said "it was time to let the past be the past and get this behind us." McGuinn faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced next month.

The FBI's Washington headquarters receives at least 15 tips a week about fake heroes. It investigates the tips and, on average, more than a hundred each year lead to pretenders.

4 comments:

Expatbrian said...

Nice post on a new subject. I can't think of a more disrespectful act against decorated soldiers than for others to impersonate them and their heroism. I was an artillery FO in Vietnam and although I spent most of my time in the field, I did not qualify for the CIB (combat infantry badge). For a combat soldier it is perhaps the most respected award there is. I would never, under any circumstances have even considered wearing one as to do so would discredit all those who deserved it.
I've heard plenty of vets tell war stories that are either exagerations or just flat out untrue, but to actually wear awards that were not earned is truly disgusting.

jj mollo said...

Damn! He certainly looks like the real thing. I'll never get over how much people lie -- and how good they are at lying. It's really outrageous, but does it deserve 6 months in jail? I should think public exposure and a fine would be enough.

expatbrian said...

soldiers have to bleed, and get wounded to wear some of what this imposter is wearing. He isn't just playing dress up. He was actually saying he earned them and his high rank. No, 6 months is not enough. An example should be made.

Anonymous said...

This guy deserves jail because not only did he wear fake medals and tell lies, it appears he tried to make - or did make - money out of it, too.