Case study: the war hero

Eyes said:
One thing of note, you do not wear ANY shoulder sleeve insignia (except Honor Guard tab for the "Old Guard") on the Army Dress Blue uniform. He would NEVER put an Airborne tab on them and his SF tab would be the mini enameled version pinned on with his wings. He is wearing Fleet Marine Corps badge that Navy Corpsman wear that are assigned to three Fleet Marine Corps.

He could be a prior Navy Force Recon Doc who went to the "Goat Scool" and then later turned Army SF guy with a big break in service that caused him to come back into the regular army as a CPL but the break in service, considering his stated creds would have to be long... And, he doesn't look old enough for that. Even if he is, my first observation stills stands, he should have nothing sewn on his shoulder and if he rates that shit, he would know that...

Real or not, his uniform is extremely dicked-up.


I was thinking that myself but as I am on my Treo and could not pull up 670-1 to verify I was waiting to get back on the PC. I recall the 2 friends at my wedding in blues were wearing mini's and not tabs.

I stand by my statement he could possibly be prior service and back in as a CPL. A long enough break in service can result in a grade determination being done and stripes lost (I went through it myself). However based on the tabs I am going to have to change my answer to poser.

When it comes to the awards I cannot make out all of them, especially those in the back rows so I cannot comment on NCOES and so on.

As for the number of decorations and so on, I have seen E-3's & E-4's running around with 4th rows of ribbons thanks to all the possible deployments going on these days.
As for the number of decorations and so on, I have seen E-3's & E-4's running around with 4th rows of ribbons thanks to all the possible deployments going on these days.

A guy in the Army could accumulate a few rows of ribbons just by showing up everyday. :D

The Army has more damn awards...

For sure you're seeing a lot of Oak Leaf clusters on those ribbons for those who have deployed and received multiple citations for the same award. Those guys on their 3rd or 4th rotations can't help but pick up a few.
As you are looking at the photo, your friend Bob happens by. Bob is a retired noncommissioned officer who spent most of his Army time in the Special Forces. As he helps himself to the contents of your coffee pot, Bob looks over your shoulder to see what you're looking at. Bob takes one look at the photo, looks at you, mutters something that sounds like "f-ing poser" and toddles off to his office, sipping coffee.

You call down to HR and ask if John submitted a DD-214 with his resume. Since the HR guy has no idea what you're talking about, you suppose there's no DD-214 to review. The HR guy adds that on his resume John lists three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, and a Distinguished Service Medal. John's resume does not show a break in service, and lists his enlistment date as October of 2003. Rumor is that John was also recommended for the Medal of Honor.

You're by no means an expert, but you figure that if a guy had earned three Silver Stars and been recommended for the MoH, you would have heard about it by now. You're more than a little suspicious, and recommend to the HR guy that he postpone hiring John until you have a chance to make some phone calls.

The next morning, you receive this month's copy of the Army Times in the mail. Guess who's on the cover?

You can read the story online here or at the Army Times website.


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what a turd.

Fake heroes go too far — and they get caught

He says he’s served twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. He says he’s got three Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts to prove it.

This summer, former soldier Richard David McClanahan will have to prove it in federal court.

McClanahan, 29, is charged in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas with bank fraud, a felony, and two misdemeanor counts of falsely claiming military awards or decorations he didn’t earn, including those Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts and a Medal of Honor.

Army officials say the former medic’s official records include an Army Commendation Medal and two Army Achievement Medals, but no awards for valor. His only overseas assignment, they say: a year-long tour in South Korea from 2003 through 2004.

McClanahan was booted out of the Army after serving prison time while facing similar charges. In lieu of a court-martial, he was given a less-than-honorable discharge in 2005, said an Army official.

And as his second wife seeks annulment from their brief marriage, she is the one pushing local authorities to bring him to justice.

Neither McClanahan nor his attorney returned several telephone calls from Army Times seeking comment.

Law enforcement officials and citizen watchdogs say cases such as the one against McClanahan are on the rise as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fuel the imaginations of would-be war heroes.

“I’ve seen an increase probably since we began the war on terrorism because it’s become fashionable to be a war hero,” said Doug Sterner, a former soldier and Vietnam veteran whose Web site,, is dedicated to preserving the records of recipients of the nation’s highest valor awards — the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Silver Star.

fake war heroes once could carry out their charades largely unnoticed beyond their local communities. But the spread of high-tech communications tools, particularly the Internet, has served to expose many to the scrutiny of experts who know how to read a ribbon rack — and will marshal forces to nail those they deem phonies.

Robin Beard, who has been married to McClanahan for six months, says his tales of heroic combat deeds were part of the charm that initially attracted her to him when they met in February 2006 in Amarillo, Texas.

“[I thought] ‘This guy is awesome,’” she said. “I’m military stupid. I’m the first one to admit that. He also showed me other documentation that was supposed to impress me. He put Purple Heart plates on his truck. He said he had three Purple Hearts, three Silver Stars,” she said.

But, she said, his stories quickly began to unravel, in part because she was proud of the heroic deeds he claimed and thought others should know about them.

Suspicion from the start
Early in their relationship, Beard said, the local chapter of America Supports You was organizing a banquet in Amarillo to honor the area’s military personnel.

“I asked about it and told them my husband was a Medal of Honor nominee,” she said. “They were all over us. They got us involved, the media got involved. I had to buy a calendar just to schedule events.”

Organizers planned to make McClanahan the banquet’s keynote speaker. But as they learned more about him from profiles and information provided by McClanahan, some of the veterans started to get suspicious, she said.

Charlie Skipper, a retired Special Forces master sergeant who is now a civilian Army employee in Amarillo, said he was helping out with the banquet when his boss handed him a bio of McClanahan.

Skipper called his Special Forces friends who were still on active duty, asking them if they had heard of McClanahan. They said no. Skipper said the bio he saw listed McClanahan as a Special Forces medic.

“A civilian doesn’t look at a valor award the way that a service member does,” Skipper said. “A service member suffers for that award. For me, being in the military, I view each and every service member out there as a hero, and for someone to say that they’re nominated for a Medal of Honor or to claim Silver Stars, to me, it’s a huge crime.”

As he continued his research, Skipper contacted Mary and Chuck Schantag, who run the POW Network, a Skidmore, Mo., nonprofit organization that works to expose phony heroes. Mary Schantag said they requested and received redacted copies of McClanahan’s Army records from Army Human Resources Command, Army Special Operations Command and Navy Personnel Command that indicated McClanahan’s claims were not legitimate.

Mary Schantag said there has not been a day in the last four or five years that the POW Network has not received a report about a suspected phony.

“If they don’t go overboard they’ll never get caught,” she said. “That’s where they trip themselves up. They’ve got to add the Rambo story ... and they’ve never been in combat.”

The FBI receives an average of 15 tips a week alerting them to military phonies, said Mike Sanborn, a special agent in the Washington, D.C., field office who is the case agent who handles or is involved in all the FBI’s cases relating to the Stolen Valor Act. The recent federal legislation is intended to curb the trend by expanding the prohibition against wearing, manufacturing or selling military decorations or medals without legal authorization and outlaws “falsely representing oneself as having been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces or any of the service medals or badges.”

Louis Lowell McGuinn, also a former soldier, was arraigned June 13 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York for allegedly wearing awards and decorations he didn’t earn, according to court documents.

McGuinn is accused of claiming to be a lieutenant colonel who had earned a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.

The U.S. attorney’s office said in court documents that McGuinn was discharged from the Army in 1968 as a private, and that he changed his name and date of birth to reinvent himself. The U.S. attorney’s office also said McGuinn told at least one security company that he was a Special Forces lieutenant colonel in order to get a job as a security consultant, and he was seen and photographed at social functions wearing decorations he didn’t earn.

McGuinn “absolutely” pleaded not guilty, said his attorney, Xavier Donaldson.

“We are actively and diligently defending him,” he said. “We feel very strongly about our side of the case and we’re just really anxious to put our side of the story on. We look forward to doing that.”

Attorneys in the McGuinn case will be back in court Aug. 17 to argue motions, Donaldson said.

On June 21, the FBI in Los Angeles announced that Augustine Hernandez, 76, of Montebello, Calif., had been charged with posing as an Army major general who had earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

According to the FBI, Hernandez was seen and photographed wearing the rank of a two-star general and decorations he didn’t earn during a December ceremony to posthumously honor Guy Gabaldon, a Marine, with a Navy Cross for his actions during World War II.

Members of the military community who saw Hernandez at the ceremony became suspicious of his uniform and ribbons, and they hired a private investigator to investigate the validity of Hernandez’s claims, the FBI said.

Records obtained by the FBI show Hernandez was honorably discharged from the Army in 1954 as a private first class. The documents contained no record of valor awards, according to the FBI.

Neither Hernandez nor his attorney could be located for comment.

Sanborn said that most of the people he identifies will say they want to support the military by dressing like service members.

“My response is, ‘Well, you could’ve served honorably. That’s supporting the military,’” he said. “Claiming you’re somebody you’re not cheapens the medals for the guys who earned it.”

“There are folks at Arlington or at national cemeteries across the country — those people paid for their Purple Hearts with their lives, and these guys bought theirs on eBay with a credit card,” he said. “We’re stopping it through the public, articles in the paper and things like that. ... Don’t take anybody at face value.”

A history of false claims
The “stolen valor” charges against McClanahan are not the first such allegations he has faced — similar accusations led to severe punishment as a soldier.

In April 2005, while assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, McClanahan was ordered to report to Fort Knox, Ky., for pre-trial confinement in the regional correctional facility, said an Army official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Through his chain of command, McClanahan had been charged with claiming he had 21 awards and certificates he didn’t earn, including the Silver Star and Purple Heart, the Army official said. He also was accused of misleading his superiors about his qualifications as a medic, lying to his battalion commander and falsifying his records in order to get a promotion, Army officials said.

But McClanahan was never convicted. In July 2005, in lieu of a court-martial, he received an other-than-honorable discharge and was busted from sergeant to private, Army officials said.

“I thought when David got reduced in rank from E-5 to E-1 and he spent 90 days at Fort Knox, I thought he had learned his lesson,” said Veronica Garcia McClanahan, the former soldier’s first wife. They divorced in September, after eight years of marriage. They had two children together and she was with McClanahan throughout his almost 2? years in the Navy and nearly four years in the Army, she said. She said he once came home with a Purple Heart he claimed was for action in Korea that he could not talk about.

Army officials said McClanahan joined the Navy in January 1999, and in May 2001 he requested a separation so he could join the Army. He joined on June 1, 2001, officials said, and, as a medic, eventually earned the rank of sergeant. His duty stations included Fort Rucker, Ala.; Yong San, Korea; and Fort Sam Houston and Fort Hood in Texas. Veronica McClanahan said her ex-husband was in Korea from February 2003 to February 2004. Army officials verified that McClanahan served in Korea during that time.

After an inquiry from Army Times, officials found a number of entries on McClanahan’s DD214 that could not be verified, including an entry saying he had a Special Forces tab.

Based on the concerns raised from the initial documents, Human Resources Command will review McClanahan’s entire DD214, said spokesman Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell.

“There are enough questions to question the validity of every item on the document,” O’Donnell said.

A search by the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C., produced no record of McClanahan, said Carol Darby, a spokeswoman for Army Special Operations Command. The search included all SWCS academic records for 2002-2003, including for the Special Forces Qualification Course and Special Operations Combat Medic, which McClanahan is accused of claiming to be.

Veronica McClanahan said that when she heard a man named David McClanahan faced new charges about the valor awards he claimed, she prayed it wasn’t her ex-husband.

“I prayed that maybe there was another David McClanahan,” she said. “I was wrong. It was him.”

Charged, again
McClanahan was arraigned June 13 in Amarillo, Texas, for the charges now pending against him in federal court. He pleaded not guilty.

The court will address any outstanding motions during a pretrial conference Aug. 2, and McClanahan’s trial could begin as early as Aug. 14, said Christy Drake, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case.

The felony charge, which accuses McClanahan of misstating and inflating his income on a financial statement in order to get a car loan, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, Drake said.

The charge of falsely claiming he had three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit carries up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The final charge, falsely claiming he received a Medal of Honor, carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

“The case has raised a lot of local interest and ... there are people associated with the military who are interested in the outcome of the case,” Drake said.

Some of that interest is driven by the Web site founded by Robin Beard,, on which she keeps a blog and updates the case against her husband. She said much of what led her to marry McClanahan she now believes turned out to be fiction. She said she feels victimized and does not want that to happen to anyone else, if she can help it.

Her Web site features photos of McClanahan in uniform with a chest full of suspect medals.

“Here stands a man who once had everything,” the Web page says. “A supportive family, a great future in the medical field and what once was thought to be an honorable past in the military. The tales he spun are now catching up with him in rapid succession. The truth shall prevail.”
Yeah, from what I read it looks like he got booted for inflating his accomplishments when he was in, got out and started doing the same damn thing again... only "bigger" and "better." :rolleyes:

I'll bet his former chain of command wishes they'd have tossed his ass in Leavenworth themselves :doh:
After a while, stories like this just make me numb.

Bad enough when somebody who has never worn the uniform pulls this crap, but when it turns out to be somebody who served (albeit less than honorably, for the same crap he's accused of now), it digs a little deeper.

I just don't get it. I've always felt honored and blessed just to have been able to do 4 years and come out in one piece.
I don't understand why people can't be happy with what they've achieved in life. I'm no super-secret special operations guy, but I'm pretty happy with what I've done so far...

If people wish they could live a more exciting life than they do, why don't they go out and do it?
I am glad that I always stick by my own rule for hiring of if they say they are military then I see a DD-214 before the hiring can be done.

Now that I see that story I also remember hearing about this guy somewhere else. His wife, or soon to be ex, joined in on that discussion and had a lot to add that was not out at that time. (she posted as rbeard on that site)
see titus, you thought he was the real deal LOL

I said he was prior service, which he was. I never said he "was" the real deal, only that it could be possible. However, I also would NEVER hire anyone claiming 1 day of military service without seeing a DD-214. I learned that while working as a recruiter and running across guys just like this one. I had resumes hit my desk that made Rambo look like a pussy. During due diligence though 99% of the time they could not produce documents proving the claims, go figure.

It has also been close to 15 years since I seriously cracked 670-1 and looked at decorations, which is why I did not comment on those I did not recognize.

Of course you also need to remember that there are some hardcore fuckers out there. I know of one person (some of you do to) who was an SF NCO who then became a PJ and then left that to head back to the Army to go back through the Q as a Warrant Officer (although I believe that ended up falling through for admin reasons). Some people are just tough as woodpecker lips. Others are just a bunch of peckers!
For one thing, you don't wear a beret with Blues.
My CLS instructor a few years back was a long tabbed Corporal in a Californial Guard medical unit out of Camp Roberts. He had been in over 10 years. He said he had an 'incident' with an officer and left it at that. He definitely knew his stuff, and was an awesome instructor. Not a common set of circumstances, but if he was the real deal, it does exist.
Even made himself an E-8 in one of the photos.


1st giveaway was tabs on his dress blues.

2nd was a beret with blues (no berets are worn with blues)

Looks like Title 18 is in effect. 3 SS, 3 PH and a LOM.

What a tool.

Bubba's gonna have fun as soon as this O2 thief drops the soap. :eek:
...He said he had an 'incident' with an officer and left it at that...

I'm sure your instructor was legit, but that seems to be the "excuse de jour" for people who end up getting busted down- seems to be a "cool" exuse- no one wants to admit to just screwing up. Sometimes the "incident with the officer" is something like a dude downloading kiddie porn onto his government laptop, and the "officer" giving him an article-15. :rolleyes:
Sad Fuckers..Don't they know they eventually get caught!..The worst we ever get over here is reservists saying their regular Soldiers.(our Reservists don't get deployed and only parade in barracks twice a week and a summer camp once a year). reservist Service Numbers are longer than full time soldiers..
Wow. Posers are springing up like mushrooms these days (You know, grow in shit and in the dark! :) ). I just don't ever remember reading or hearing about this number of pretenders from WWII, Korea, or especially Vietnam when I was a kid.
I'm sure your instructor was legit, but that seems to be the "excuse de jour" for people who end up getting busted down- seems to be a "cool" exuse- no one wants to admit to just screwing up. Sometimes the "incident with the officer" is something like a dude downloading kiddie porn onto his government laptop, and the "officer" giving him an article-15. :rolleyes:

There was a guy in my unit a couple years back that joined the Army under an alias, got a clearance, and was finally found out to be wanted for child molestation.

Then we get a guy one day that was stationed at Leavenworth and either worked for or had dealings with the prison. Turned out he knew who the guy was. "He was in for assault or something" To which someone replied "Yeah, assault on some kids ass."

I guess his story changed. Hopefully he'll get stabbed in jail.