In a video recently posted to the Stolen Valor YouTube account, an irate veteran is seen confronting a man in the Oxford Valley Mall in eastern Pennsylvania on Black Friday. Things quickly got confrontational.
Using his son as a ruse to start the conversation, the vet quickly starts interrogating the man, asking why his flag patch was so low on his shoulder.
While the man was quick to answer the vet's questions, he stumbled when the talk turned to CIBs — Combat Infantryman Badges.
"Where'd you get three CIBs at?" the vet asks.
"Afghanistan," comes the uniform-wearing man's response.
Then the vet drops the hammer: "You know you need to be in three different campaigns to get three CIBs, right?"
Soon thereafter, the man in uniform gets a call from his "staff sergeant."
As he walks away, the vet filming berates him:
"I've worn that f*****g uniform, and I've had friends in Afghanistan killed wearing that f*****g uniform. You're full of s**t, stolen valor, right here, stolen valor!"
Watch the confrontation below (content warning: strong language):
Was the man in uniform really a phony? Was he trying to snag undeserved discounts and attention?
In the comment section below the video, several commenters questioned whether the "fake" soldier might actually be the real deal, and they debated the importance of calling out impostors in uniform, prompting one person to write:
You don't understand because you're not a soldier. He messed up basic questions. You can't get 3 campaign ribbons for serving in one war, no matter how many times you go back. Basic for infantry is at Fort Benning, not Fort Jackson. Having your flag too low is like wearing a wedding ring on your right hand. It's not a mistake a real soldier would make. He didn't have on an under shirt. Using the title staff sergeant on the phone. A real staff sergeant is called 'sergeant.' Plus he was too freaking fat to be infantry (sorry but infantry is no joke and they're not overweight). He messed up basic stuff every soldier knows within a month of serving, even national guard or reserve.
Another commenter stressed the impossibility of a young man have three CIBs:
CIBs are awarded for specific periods of time. If you go to combat several times during the current period of time, you will only get one award. Three time awardees (what he was wearing) are very rare and their names are in bronze at the National Infantry Museum. Right now, all 3 time awardees are veterans of WW2-Korea-Vietnam.
In order to have 3 CIB awards and be still in uniform, an infantryman would have had to serve during the Korean War (end date 1953), Vietnam/Cold War (end date 1995) and War on Terror (2001 to present). A quick math test, to have been 18 yrs old in 1953, you'd have been born in 1935 and had to be serving as an infantryman in 2001, at the age of 66 with 48 years in the Army. Mandatory retirement age in the US Army (with certain exceptions) is 62 years old.
I'm 50 right now and served for 28 years when I retired in 2011. Korean vets were non-existent when I came in. Vietnam vets still in were very rare after 1990. It's physically impossible for him to have earned 3 CIBs.
According to the folks behind Stolen Valor and Guardian of Valor, outing fake soldiers is an important part of preserving the honor associated with military service.
"Our Mission at Guardian Of Valor...is to out those who falsely claim Military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs," reads the Guardian of Valor mission statement. "It may be your First Amendment right to lie about service to this country, and medals earned, but it is our First Amendment right to show the world your lies."
UPDATE: Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, the Republican who represents Bucks County, Pennsylvania (where the Oxford Valley Mall is located) has asked the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia to investigate the video since it "possibly" contained evidence of a crime, the Bucks County Courier Times reported Monday:
Under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which Fitzpatrick co-sponsored, it’s illegal for an individual to fraudulently portray him or herself as a recipient of any of several specified military decorations or medals with the intent to obtain money, property or other 'tangible benefit.'
The video does not show the man attempting to obtain any benefit. And falsely claiming to be a member of the military alone is not illegal.
This story has been updated.
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