Stolen Valor making the news everywhere

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Stolen Valor making the news everywhere

For the past week I have been sharing emails with Jaie Avila of WOAI TV in San Antonio about Stolen Valor folks in his area.  And last night he broadcast the first half of his two part series.  Here's a taste of one of the guys that we were discussing:

The Fake Warrior project [and a few others of us] worked with us on the case of this former marine from Pearsall, Albert Bustamante. 

Pictures show him wearing the bronze star ribbon along with other insignias and badges from the Vietnam War. The problem is, Bustamante's military record shows him not joining the marines until 1976, after the Vietnam War ended.  It doesn't list the medals and citations seen in the pictures.

We tracked down Bustamante at his home in Pearsall, where even his pickup truck is adorned with a Vietnam ribbon.

Bustamante admits the ribbons he's wearing in the pictures aren't his.  He claims he borrowed them from a friend.
“Because of those pictures I caught a bunch of flak from all the guys that actually been there.  I respect that they were there you know, I was a veteran too,” Bustamante said.  “I understand how they're offended and they're upset you know.” 

Bustamante admits he never fought in Vietnam, but he still insists he was awarded a bronze star, for rescuing a fellow marine in the Philippines.  He claims they both shipped over on the USS Missouri.  We checked and the Missouri wasn't being used by the navy at the time.  It was actually a floating museum.

Bustamente originally claimed that his service on the Missouri was in rescuing Vietnamese people from Saigon.  As I noted to Jaie when this first came up, his next claim will be that it was off the books.

Well, then we were sent video from Randy Travis of Fox 5 in Atlanta.  I was less than shocked when this guys story fell through and his defense was......a secret mission that was off the books.

Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Posted in the burner | 7 comments
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Yes, they will use the old "black ops" crap when they can't lie their way out of being caught.

Lets burn this guy

Seems like not too long ago, a person charged with a crime under the Stolen Valor Act had their conviction overturned as it violated their right of free speech. I have two Purple Heart Award Certificates and two sets of orders awarding me a Purple Heart. The certificates and orders have different dates on them but it was the same incident, just depended which side of the International Date Line you were on. I wear one Purple Heart Ribbon, not a ribbon with a Star. If you are entitled, wear it with pride. If not entitled, you are a fraud and a liar and not even worthy of wasting contempt on.

I am a Vietnam Era vet having served in the Navy during the last part of the Vietnam war. The only award I ever received was the National Defense Medal which I proudly wear on my biker vest. Having many friends who are combat veterans, I am angered at those who would steal the recognition that these men and woman received. Nearly everyone I know didn't choose to be sent to a combat zone, but they went and did their utmost duty for us. I thank God that I did not personally know anybody who never made it back. I believe it should be made a Federal crime to claim Military Service and awards that the person did not earn. Ist Amendment right my patootie!

The military issues a DD214 to every discharged service member. That document lists all authorized awards and decorations that may be worn by the individual. Original orders and/or certificates of award may be lost and unrecoverable but an individual's DD214 can be replaced and the replacement is available on-line. There is no excuse for not being able to demonstrate authorization for the medals worn.

The overused BS story that "I was in Black Ops", or some other cock and bull story, will not negate their having a DD214 (some will even have multiple DD214s - one patient at the VA has 17) showing exactly what awards and decorations they are authorized to wear. There might or might not be some truth to a story that claims mission specifics prevented the issuing of a particular award. This story, even if true, still does not authorize the wearing of any award or decoration not awarded.

I spent a year tour in Viet-Nam (Nha Trang) as well as TDY time flying Hurks out of the Philippines. Those in country saw many QB and QG tails on the dirt strips. Later, I spent eight years on AC-130H Gunships. At last count, I have lost 19 friends to ACTUAL combat. I was lucky and never got hit but did get a bit busted up in the aircraft. In Special Ops, we did do things we don't talk about but we were awarded medals and ribbons for our actions. Most were 'in support of...' and that we all can talk about. But we were Special Ops teams, not some new guy to the service. We all had at least a few years and a lot of training before we went on any missions. If you did 'Black Ops' you, you never spoke of it or admitted to anything like that. I'm not even sure what 'Black Ops' is???

Don't expect all discharge records to be accurate.
When I left Nam in July 1966, my records followed me to my next assignment at Ft. Benning, without my evacuation and medical records that took me outside of Vietnam to Clark AFB Hospital and then
to Okinawa to recover.
It took me 47 years to get my records straightened out, locate my commanding officer, and finally get awarded my Purple Heart through Army HR at Ft. Knox.
When the Army, or other service records are corrected they issue orders and DD215's.
I have gone through 3 correction episodes, and have 3 DD215's for the corrections.

So, make sure that you check on any corrections, before you go off and wrongfully
condemn someone.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.