Walter Mittys under seige
People fraudulently claiming to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman could face six months imprisonment under proposed laws passed through the House of Representatives today. Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Mal Brough said anyone falsely claiming to be a returned service man or woman should face the force of the law. “It’s a disgraceful act that warrants a strong penalty,” Mr Brough said. “Many Australians have served our country proudly and wrongly claiming to be a veteran is an insult to those men and women.” Along with a maximum prison term of six months, the fine will increase from $200 to a maximum $3,300. The Defence Legislation Amendment Bill also increases the penalty for the wearing of medals to which an individual is not entitled. There are a lot of Walter Mitty’s in the world and I’ve met quiet a few myself. Some years back, post Army, I had a framing business that specialized in framing medals and memorabilia for veterans. One day, after returning from picking up stock, my son Stuart told me of an order for replica medals that included the Vietnam War group with a Military Medal. Whereas I couldn’t claim to know the name of every Military Medal winner from the Vienam War the name on the order definitely didn’t ring a bell so I sent a letter requesting details of his actions that earnt the bravery award. The reply came with supporting letters attached, supposedly written by an Officer at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane. It was all wrong. The paper was wrong and the language, the staff writing, was wrong. I read his own statement where he claimed to have been in an attack in 1971 where he single handedly assaulted a bunker system killing several occupants with a bayonet. His platoon Commander had been wounded and this man had definitely saved the day. Admittedly, he didn’t know who I was or who I knew – He lucked out. In his statement he named the Platoon Commander as Gary McKay. As it happened the day I received his answer was the scheduled day for a Regimental Happy Hour at Enoggera Barracks. I phoned Gary McKay, and old aquaintance and friend and confirmed he was going to attend. I also asked him what he was doing in 1971 on the date mentioned in the reply. “In hospital in Australia recovering from wounds.” He said That night I had a beer with Gary, the Platoon Commander of this supposed hero, the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Battalion at that time and the Chief Clerk, all of whom denied any knowledge of my Walter Mitty. The following week he called demanding to know where his medals were as ANZAC Day was approaching. As a result of this conversation, somewhere on the Gold Coast lives a man in fear of his life. A different form of PTSD We veterans have a lot of problems with these people and have a network and website that records posers. Often referred to as Wannabees we are onto them. I wonder if we could get the anti-Veteran Left and wannabee veterans together in one paddock – maybe next Vietnam Veterans Day. We could have a chat. Hat tip to Gary of Gravett fame and Defence Media Centre
There are a shed full of these frauds at http://www.cpmh.net – well worth a read.
Particularly gratifying to see the Labor party, in the form of Graham Edwards, MHR, enthusiastically supporting this Bill in Parliament.
Let’s hope that the gumnut fairies in the Senate do not block the passage of the Bill.
And lets hope the wannabes are watching as well.
Ran in to this bastard a few years ago at an ANZAC day march that was wearing a VC. Reckoned he got it in Malaya during the emergency. Unfortunately for him I knew that there were no VC winners from Oz during tat particular game. Got in to a little argy-bargy and I was backed up by a couple of old diggers who I was drinking with at the time. Stupid bastard thought he could pass himself off and get a bit of glory. Having been a digger, I would never dream of trying to pass off something that was so easy to check out as a service record. Anyway I grabbed the medals off the bastard and he bolted. Tore the pricks shirt in the process. Hope he rots in hell.
Kev- hate your politics- love your work…
Anyway there is a place to check:
Thats where I found my Grandfathers MM:
Service Number: 1438
Unit: 10th LH
Honour / Award: Military Medal
Date of London Gazette: 3 July 1919, page 8357, position 91
Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 17 October 1919, page 1531, position 35
He went to his grave without telling why. Thats what makes the fakers stand out…
* for the record, he took a Turkish machine gun nest single handed, shooting them from his horse with a machine gun. No wonder he never told why…
The fellows in WW1 had such a hard time that almost an entire generation grew up not knowing what their fathers/husbands/sons and lovers actually did during the war.
I was once momentarily mortared – these guys had days of shelling. It is virtually impossible for me to imagine my seconds of terror extended to days.
I have two emotions about WW1 – compassion for the poor bastards who fought it and a feeling of rage for the Generals who used the tactics of the last war they fought (as subalterns against spear throwing Zulus) to assault German machine guns.