stolen honor.

Here’s something that ticks me off beyond reasonable levels:

Douchebags wearing military uniforms and medals they’ve never earned, pretending they did.

This is different from the Glenn Beck thing, where someone uses a uniform as a prop.  That was annoying, but not nearly as offensive as this particular case, because Glenn Beck never put on that uniform claiming to be an Unteroffizier in the German Army.  No, the douchebag featured in this article represented himself not only as a Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, but also as a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration that can be bestowed on a sailor or Marine after the Medal of Honor.

There’s a way to earn that uniform, and that’s by going to a Marine Corps recruiter, and taking the hard road that goes through Parris Island or San Diego MCRD.  There’s a way to attain that rank, and that’s by serving with distinction and working your way up the ranks as a non-commissioned officer.  There’s a way to get that Navy Cross, and that’s by performing an action that involves extreme gallantry and risk of life, beyond the call of duty, performed in combat with an enemy force.  There’s a way to get that Purple Heart, and that’s by shedding blood and receiving wounds for your country in combat.

Going to an Army/Navy shop and paying money for a USMC dress uniform and a handful of ribbons is not it.

What is it with people who try to leech honor off the people who earned it legitimately?  The medals on that dorkwad’s chest are just ribbons without the achievement behind them.  A Navy Cross costs maybe $5 to manufacture.  I could make up a trophy for any achievement you’d like, and hand it to you to put on your mantelpiece, but if you have any sense of honor at all, that trophy won’t mean a damn thing to you, because you know that you didn’t do anything to earn it.

A possible year in jail isn’t much of a punishment for that kind of douchebaggery.  A more fitting punishment would be to let him wear that uniform…and then drop him in the middle of Parris Island or Camp Lejeune, after briefing every Marine present on the precise nature of that gentleman’s transgressions.

Update: Turns out he got busted because he showed up at his 20-year HS reunion in USMC dress blues with Lieutenant Colonel oak leaves.  One of his former classmates is a genuine Navy Lt. Commander.  She saw the Navy Cross on his chest, and figured he was playing dress-up, since that particular award is a rare honor.  So she asked the “Lieutenant Colonel” to pose for a picture with her, which he gladly did.  Then she sent the picture to the Feds.

The moral of the story: Don’t claim uniform, rank, and medals you didn’t earn…and if you must try to score some tail at your reunion with a store-bought uniform, trey not to overcook it.  When you show up with more ribbons on your chest than Chesty Puller, and top your fruit salad with a medal whose recipients in the last decade can be counted on both hands with fingers left over, you may just arouse the suspicions of any legitimate vets who may be present.

Update the Second:  Here’s the picture the tool was sending around online to back up his claims of combat service in Iraq and Afghanistan:

091111_Steven_Burton

The chevrons on his sleeves are that of a Master Gunnery Sergeant, which is the top of the enlisted rank ladder in the Corps.  A 39-year-old Master Gunny would be the youngest E-9 in the Corps, and one with the Navy Cross on his chest would be a Marine Corps legend.  The unrealistically high rank for a guy his age, combined with the astounding number of medals in his fruit salad would scream “poser” to any Marine fresh out of SOI, even without the Navy Cross that tripped this moron up in the end.

49 thoughts on “stolen honor.

  1. Ish says:

    Props for a book jacket, play, or film? Fine. Militaria buffs who collect such things? Fine. Wargame reenactments, cosplay, or even just a way-to-detailed airsoft outfit? Sure.

    They problem isn’t wearing the uniform, the problem is pretending you earned it. Everyone listed above is doing it with some degree of respect. Imitation might not be the sincerest form of flattery, but its up there…

    Pretending to be a warhero to impress girls at your old high school? I say we get out the tar and feathers, and take him rund to a VA hospital.

  2. perlhaqr says:

    Screw that. Drop him in the middle of Baghdad or Mogadishu or Beirut or Tehran, and see how he feels about claiming things he doesn’t have.

  3. Kristopher says:

    He should try wearing an HA patch he didn’t earned into a biker bar, and see what happens …

    Perl: I do like your idea … he can get a chance to draw a bullet meant for someone who did earn it.

    • pdb says:

      He should try wearing an HA patch he didn’t earned into a biker bar, and see what happens …

      I don’t get this deference or respect towards biker gangs. They’re all either criminal scumbags, or worthless posers who worship criminal scumbags. Gang colors aren’t earned, but Marine stripes are and it’s obscene to compare the two.

      • perlhaqr says:

        However you feel about the HA, claiming that their colors aren’t earned is… not in keeping with the reality I live in.

        You are, of course, welcome to attempt to prove me wrong by wearing said colors in a public context and surviving the experience. I’ll be happy to eat my words if you’re still walking and talking long enough to tell me I need to do so.

        The Marines evidently punish false patch holders with a year in prison. The HA punish false patch holders with death. Your call as to which takes things more seriously.

        • Caleb says:

          Sure, gang colors are “earned”, but comparing gang colors to military rank is obscene. Yes, the Hell’s Angels would punish a pretender, but the concept of stolen honor and valor doesn’t apply, because the colors don’t represent the same thing.

          The Hells Angels colors stand for nothing of note, nothing worthy of praise or adulation. The colors of the USMC, USAF, USN, USA, and USCG stand for honor, devotion to duty, country, and pretty much everything else that makes this country awesome.

          Having worn those colors, I’m revolted that someone would dare to compare the earning of my bars to earning colors in some club full of scumbags.

        • Kristopher says:

          I wasn’t comparing gang colors to military honors … I was simply commenting on the retard in question’s bravery.

          He knew full well little would happen to him for wearing a USMC uniform. A year in a low security fed institution is nothing … and I doubt he’ll serve that with the current admin.

          Grow some hide, please. My words are just that. Words.

        • Schmidt says:

          Here, a Vietnam (combat) veteran makes compares gangs with the military:

          http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed112.html

          [quote]
          These days every war is said to have some justification of the most solemn import, but it’s just Crips and Bloods. Among primitive peoples a young man becomes a warrior through some curious rite, and then goes on raids to steal horses and women. With us it’s boot camp, jump wings, Ranger patch, and raids to impose democracy. The essential difference is as follows:

          What we call statesmanship is, emotionally and morally, indistinguishable from gang war in South Chicago. The scale is more imposing and, under some administrations, the grammar better. Aggressive males rise to power in heavily armed countries of many millions. Then they push and shove, bark and bow-wow at others like themselves in other countries. The tribal trappings remain, particularly among the warriors: Baubles and medals and patches and different hats, talk of honor and duty and valor. Nah. Male dogs in an alley.
          [/quote]

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m all for putting the valor thieves through the Basic Training/Boot Camp of whatever branch each one tried to claim as his own.

    In fact: let’s do that and make a documentary. Put them all in one platoon so that they don’t infect the other recruits, then turn the camera crews loose to record everything. Make a DVD and give the profits to a military-related charity – I’d buy several copies and pass them out to my friends so that we could all point and laugh at our leisure.

  5. Ish says:

    Just a thought, but is it possible that he was awarded his commission, medals, and decorations by a committee of Norwegians?

  6. Antibubba says:

    And the prize goes to Ish!

  7. Ken says:

    Dang. I don’t even like to use military terminology to veterans, for fear of putting on airs. A couple of years ago an older veteran saluted me after I made a donation outside the Cleveland Air Show, and I could only bring myself to return a civilian salute. Tried to join the Naval Reserve five years ago, but I’m overage. Too soon old, too late schmott.

  8. mikeb302000 says:

    I have to mention one thing. Anyone who went through the Parris Island training knows that the West coast guys are referred to as “Hollywood Marines.” Other than that I liked what you wrote very much.

  9. wolfwalker says:

    I’ve looked at this story several times now, and each time I simply can’t get past the matter of how incredibly clueless this guy was about the military. Most “chairborne rangers” are just sad, petty little people who are deserving mainly of pity and contempt, not anger or hatred.

    This guy, though …

    He claimed to be a Gunny. He claimed to be a Mustang. He claimed to be a Light Colonel, meaning he reached senior NCO and then mid-level officer rank in just twenty years. He claimed to have won the Navy Cross and Legion of Merit, two very rare awards. All of these are easily verified by both the Marine Corps and private organizations. And yet, he thought he could get away with it.

    To borrow a line from Douglas Adams, “that is not just stupid, it’s spectacularly obtuse.” If there is such a thing as capital stupidity, this guy is guilty of it. Whatever gene pool produced him needs a stiff shot of chlorine.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      It gets better. I saw a larger version of the picture of him on the beach in an NCO smock, and the rank on his sleeves was Master Gunnery Sergeant.

      A 39-year-old Master Gunns with the Navy Cross would be a Marine Corps legend.

      • Tam says:

        That kind of clueless chutzpah borders on breathtaking.

      • Tam says:

        You know the only reason he didn’t award himself the Blue Max is because fake ones are near-impossible to come by.

        • Rick R. says:

          Actually, you can get a repro Blue Max from Amazon for $20.

          I’m surprised he wasn’t wearing gold jump wings and a scuba badge.

        • Tam says:

          I thought that was a Big Federal No-No?

        • Rick R. says:

          The Stolen Valor Act only covers American medals (including foreign deocrations authorized by Congress for award to US servicemembers).

        • Tam says:

          In this instance, I was using “Blue Max” as the colloquial shorthand for the MOH, not the Pour le Merite.😮

        • Kristopher says:

          I dunno … I could see this retard wearing a Pour le Merite and a CMOH at the same time … it all depends on what was on the shelf at the store he went to.

        • Rick R. says:

          Never heard that particular colloquialism.

          We always just called it “The Medal”. (Yes, the caps are apparant, even in speech. {chuckle} )

      • Steve says:

        I had the same reaction that you had.

        I graduated high school 30 years ago, a classmate earned the rank of Master Chief just a few years ago, well past 40. Granted he wasn’t the brightest guy I knew, but he did well by the Navy and as far as I know he earned the rank in a reasonable amount of time.

        Unlike say MGySgt or LtCol Kurtz there. I’m sure little snowflake will tell us all about his victimhood soon.

  10. SemperGumby says:

    In every instance that I’ve seen where someone is posing as a service member they always pick the loftiest rank and decorations which is what gives them away (thankfully.)

    He obviously was not satisfied with simply “being” a Marine and I find that the most offensive part of all of this.

    And I second Marko’s idea of punishment. Marine Recruits who are going through Hell to earn the title would not take kindly to a poser…

  11. aczarnowski says:

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    I know squat all about military dress and honors but even I can tell that ain’t real.

    Unfortunately, I’m not surprised in the least at the attempt. Honor has been a long time leaving these shores.

  12. Porter says:

    Drop him in theater and leave him there until he earns every one of those medals. If he survives he can have his citizenship in this great country back.

    Never mind, no self respecting real Marine should be punished by having to fight next to him.

  13. MarkHB says:

    Good gh0d. Just… good gh0d.

  14. Boat Guy says:

    T’would be nice to use the same measures we used to take against thieves in “the old Corps” first. A one-year Fed beef isn’t near enough.

  15. Dr. Feelgood says:

    Keep trying to comment, but can’t… stop… laughing. The mirth at his epic cluelessness far outweighs my (substantial) anger at a poser of this magnitude.

    He needs some first-class wall-to-wall counseling from a real Marine.

  16. Shrimp says:

    Kind of reminds me of the particular tool we had show up at Post 1 in Denver, wearing the 10th Mountain uniform and 82nd Airborne patches. Took about two minutes for this idiot to be confronted with his criminal act. And it was a Zoomie who figured him out! He left with his tail between his legs, and only his pride hurt, but only because some members had to be reminded that fisticuffs in the club is verboten.

    This Burton fella at least didn’t try to go inside a VFW or Legion Post, where people who really wore the uniform are actually present!

    But it takes a particular kind of stupidity to wear the uniform inside an American Legion Post. It is amazing how some pretenders think the real McCoys can’t sniff them out.

  17. Eric says:

    On a lesser note, I’ve had two friends in recent days tell me of their coworker who was a “sniper” in the Army. Just because someone is a gun accumulator doesn’t mean they were a sniper. I told the younger of my two friends to do the math – there aren’t that many people with that MOS to begin with.

    • Windy Wilson says:

      Was that the Friends’ characterization or the co-worker? I have a colleague who thinks I’m some flavor of sniper due to my participation in CMP and various other High-Power matches. I’ve denied that, saying there is a special course of training, and one has to be much more accurate than I am, but I think he thinks that I’m just being modest.

  18. “there aren’t that many people with that MOS to begin with”

    True, but a whole lot of people hear Designated Marksman and remember Sniper. And there are tons of DMs out there.

    The post starter makes you really wish that running the gauntlet could still be used as a form of punishment.

  19. Stan says:

    I think Sarah’s idea is the best, if he wants to be a Marine so bad that he just had to go out and buy the uniform I’m sure we could oblige him a free trip to Parris Island.

    I can hear the Drills now, “So boy, you want to be a Marine? Well we’ll make you a Marine alright.”

  20. T.Stahl says:

    I’d like to see this fool sentenced to a few years of latrine cleaning duty at a base of the Commandant’s choice.🙂

  21. Antibubba says:

    I like Sarah’s idea too, and the resulting “reality show” would be a powerful disincentive to any others out there. But there will always be some doofi who will see it as a chance for fame, as incomprehensible as that is.

    So I say we petition for the Stolen Honor Act of 2010: Anyone who fraudulently passes themselves off as military personnel is inducted into that branch, tried in a military court, dishonorably discharged, and serves their time in a military penal facility.

    • Rick R. says:

      Antibubba,

      I don’t even want such turds in MY Army long enough to get courts-martialed and dishonorably discharged.

      I’m sure the Marines, sailors, and airmen all feel the same way.

  22. Rey B says:

    Looks like a good candidate for a nice long blanket party.

  23. Laughingdog says:

    Is E-9 in 20 years really that impossible in the Marines? It’s not terribly common in the Navy. But when I was in, we had an Operations Specialist (very slow advancement rate) who was a 14-year E-9. Basically, it’s impossible to come in as an E-1 and get E-9 any faster than he did.

    But a fast E-9 AND a Navy Cross is ridiculous.

    • Justin says:

      Is it impossible? Nope. I have seen many E-9s, both Sergeants Major and Master Gunnery Sergeants with under 20 years of service. E-9 with a Navy Cross in the time frame this guy claimed? Look up SgtMaj Brad Kasal. But you are right, someone that does that is a legend in the Marine Corps and known on site.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Kasal

  24. Sara says:

    I’ve seen that guy in the picture before, isn’t that Major Caudill? 🙂
    I agree with the other commenters who would prefer that the idiot be sent to Parris Island rather than a civilian prison. He’d deserve everything he’d get there.

  25. Windy Wilson says:

    I don’t think Georgi Zhukov had that many medals on his uniform. My father used to use the phrase, ” Mexican General” for someone with a lot of fake bling like that of this — person.

  26. Windy Wilson says:

    I recall elsewhere on the internet about a year ago, some boy of about 18 was caught walking through an airport wearing dress blues. Two real Sergeants noticed him because the pants were the wrong length, the shoes were wrong, the haircut was wrong, and the jacket wasn’t tailored right, either. I don’t believe they took the uniform from him, but they did give him a tremendous dressing-down as only Sergeants can do.

    Wasn’t there a movie with Jan-Michael Vincent where he washed out of basic and came back to his home town with a fake story of heroism?

    I would feel I was stealing valor if I wore camo or anything that was current military, or even that OD cover with the points the USMC has. If someone has to ask you if you were in the military based on what you’re wearing, that’s a sign you’ve stepped over the line.

    • Snowdog says:

      I’ll admit, I sometimes wear a field jacket with my name and the unit patch that I was in on it (cause it’s a cool looking one, always liked it, the 12th aviation patch is much better than having to wear the V corps one we had when we got to Wiesbaden) but I don’t have any rank on it, because I’m a civilian now, and the field jacket isn’t a camo pattern that’s used. I don’t think the army ever used it, it’s the black white and grey Artic camo.

      But that’s a lot different than what this douche did. The only thing on my field jacket that could be considered an award are the aircrew wings-and I took them off one of the BDU sets that I still had in the closet. (my fiancee appropiated the pants though for when she’s out in the woods doing nature photography.) if someone asks if I served, I can proudly say yes.

      just wish I still was, but let my ex wife talk me out of staying in back in 91. ah well.

  27. ton says:

    I had the same reaction that you had.

  28. B Smith says:

    I used to wear my old field jacket, rank, patches and all—but it was mostly just because I never bothered to remove the stuff after I got out. The way I see it, I earned everything there fairly— I certainly never added anything I didn’t earn. Also, I always wore it the way we did in service… buttoned and zipped, all flaps closed, and the blousing at the waist drawn (looked better that way, anyway!!)

    If I had a dollar for every “Navy Seal” I met in a bar, I’d never have to pay for another beer in my life. Sad.

Comments are closed.