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Old 07-21-2007, 04:51   #2
Team Sergeant
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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This is so rampant that several individuals and groups have networked together to expose the phonies, including Burkett, Captain Larry Bailey (a retired Navy SEAL),, the Special Forces Association and (run by Chuck and Mary Schantag). They refer criminal cases to a handful of FBI agents who have experience in military investigations.

Hollywood is starting to recognize the phenomenon. This summer, a Web site promoting the movie Wedding Crashers posted a printable "Purple Heart" as part of its "crasher kit" guaranteed to help freeloaders snag gratis booze and pick up women: "To get one of these babies, some dudes have to prove their physical, mental, and spiritual strength with great feats of bravery on the battlefield. All you need to do is press the button below." An uproar from veterans prompted the promoters to pull the gag.

It has long been a federal crime to buy, sell, trade or falsely wear a Medal of Honor. In July, Representative John Salazar (D-Colorado) introduced the "Stolen Valor Act of 2005" in Congress to expand the law to certain high-level combat decorations and the Purple Heart. There's a move to extend the act to make it illegal to falsely claim any military medals or decorations.

After 9/11, the first wave of wannabe warriors claiming service in Afghanistan and Iraq started showing up:

• Thomas Larez: In December 2001, Channel 8 ran a story about this Dallas soldier, who claimed a record of heroism in Afghanistan. The newscast, based on a "Marine advisory" written by his commanding officer, said that Sergeant Larez pulled an injured soldier to safety, and then, despite his own combat wounds, killed seven Taliban soldiers. WFAA retracted the story after learning Larez had concocted the advisory himself. He'd never left the United States.

• Stephen Emmons: In the middle of an Alabama college basketball game in December 2001, the announcer introduced Navy Petty Officer Emmons, 26, as a "diver hero." Emmons claimed he disarmed underwater mines in the Arabian Sea and accompanied other divers to Afghanistan in support of a SEAL unit. After his story was printed in the Mobile Register, the SEAL community outed Emmons as a fraud. He wasn't a diver, and he'd never served in the Arabian Sea or Afghanistan. Petty Officer Emmons was a submarine sonar man.

• Andrew Isbell: During his August 2004 trial for drug possession in Rockport, Texas, Sergeant Andrew Isbell wore his Army uniform with two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After testifying that he was home on medical leave after being wounded on patrol in Baghdad, Isbell was acquitted. Tipped by an observer who questioned the way his medals were arranged, investigators discovered Isbell was a private who served as a cook. He never saw combat and had been discharged after going AWOL. (Isbell was charged with aggravated perjury.)

• Justin McCauley: From Rosemont, California, McCauley told the Sacramento Bee he was a Navy SEAL wounded in Afghanistan in 2002. The Bee later retracted the story. McCauley was actually an aviation ordnance man who served on an aircraft carrier.

• Lisa Jane Phillips: Officials at Meredith College in North Carolina waived $42,178 in tuition for Captain Phillips after she returned from serving as an Air Force pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. In January 2005, Phillips wore her uniform--adorned with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart--to class and told elaborate stories of her heroism. The campus police chief, a Vietnam veteran, got suspicious because one of the medals on Phillips' uniform was from WWII. He called in federal investigators, who charged Phillips with impersonating an officer and a dozen other federal crimes. She had never served in the military.

• Sarah Kenney: A woman in Grand Junction, Colorado, called a radio station in August 2004 using the name Amber Kenney, saying she was a National Guard soldier leaving for basic training and that her husband Jonathan was already fighting in Iraq. Kenney called in frequently with many details about their lives. In February 2005, Kenney contacted the media to say that her husband had been killed leaping in front of a bullet to save an Iraqi child. After an organization called Hometown Heroes sent a fax confirming the death, news outlets ran the story. But an investigation by a local newspaper revealed that Kenney's name was Sarah, not Amber. She'd never served in the National Guard, nor had her husband Michael, who was alive and managing a fast-food restaurant. Confronted, Kenney said, "I feel like an ass." She pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation and received probation.

G.I. Jerk
Continued from page 2
Published: September 1, 2005

• James D. Johnson: For years, North Carolina resident Johnson, now 49, told of his exploits as a Navy SEAL. After 9/11, Johnson told one woman who'd known him for 26 years that he'd been called to active duty in Iraq and asked her to marry him when he returned from combat. According to The Charlotte Observer, Johnson paid her a surprise visit in 2003 wearing camouflage and dusty combat boots, saying he was on leave from Iraq. Then the girlfriend discovered Johnson was romancing other women with his tales of derring-do. The newspaper found that Johnson was an insurance adjuster who had served in the Navy during the '70s as a petty officer; he'd never been a SEAL.

Jake, a Dogo Argentino, made the rounds, eliciting sympathy--and money and affection--from a string of women who fell for Haberman.

Haberman claimed he had designed a special mask for paratroopers. Here, he poses next to a mannequin at the Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C.Some wannabes use their status as veterans to garner sympathy, to get ahead in their careers or to manipulate their loved ones. Other phonies go to extremes such as forging documents to lay claim to combat decorations and veterans' benefits they haven't earned.

The Observer found that Phil Haberman's military claims are just one facet of a life lived in fantasy and deception.

Love Me, Love My Dog

Rhoad wonders if she would have been as supportive of Haberman if it weren't for Jake. Rhoad loved dogs; she owned purebred Akitas.

After their first lunch, Haberman explained that a friend had given him a fresh-caught tuna and invited himself over to cook dinner for Rhoad and her daughter. But after the meal, Haberman got a phone call that Rhoad could tell was from an angry female. He explained that she'd been keeping Jake but was fed up with the dog and had taken him to the pound.

The next morning Rhoad went with Haberman to rescue Jake. Seeing cuts and scrapes on the animal, Haberman "totally freaked out," Rhoad says. Though he didn't have proof of immunizations, Haberman insisted Jake was a military dog and threatened to sue the shelter because the animal was injured. The shelter released the dog and apologized to Haberman.

Within days, Haberman had shifted gear--dog, duffel bag and white Mustang convertible--to Rhoad's townhouse. He seemed like a career soldier. Most of his clothes were military issue or shirts that said Special Forces. He sported a large tattoo of a Marine bulldog on his right arm. Other screen names he used included ForceReconMarine and usmcdog4u. She later found out he was an E-4 (Specialist, a grade higher than Private First Class).

Haberman never seemed to have any money, because the military "had messed up his pay," but he had dreams. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Haberman had walk-on roles in the TV show JAG and movies such as High Crimes and Scorpion King. His résumé listed "11 years Marine reconnaissance" and experience as a "combat tactical expert," "in-water trauma medic" and "weapons specialist."

Another undertaking was more outrageous:, where a clothed Haberman, sporting an erection, posed as "Woody Hunter"--promoting reviews of porn sites. (Haberman says "Woody Hunter" was just a photo gig.)

Haberman's biggest project, however, was going to make him a fortune. He'd redesigned a Gentex oxygen mask/helmet for Special Operations paratroopers who did "high-altitude/low opening" jumps. Already, one branch of the military had placed orders for 10,000 of the masks, and Haberman would make 3 percent profit on sales.

One day Haberman and Rhoad drove to the naval base at China Lake, California, where he presented the mask to some highly skilled jumpers. That night, the military personnel
"The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy, but where they are."
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