Another Wannabe Hero

Discussion in 'OFF-Topic / Misc.' started by ccheese, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    #1 ccheese, Dec 4, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
    In early November, retired Senior Chief Jeffrey Sparenberg was the guest of honor at military heritage day in Delaware.

    Sparenberg spent 23 years in the Navy, including time on the destroyer Cole, and he was at Fort DuPont State Park that day to donate a flag that he said flew over the Cole shortly after it was attacked nine years ago.

    The flag, he hoped, would be put on view at the planned Delaware Military Museum.

    A photograph from the ceremony shows Sparenberg on the steps of a shuttered brick building. The left side of his chest is covered with military medals - including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, purportedly from the actions he took and the injuries he suffered in that lunchtime attack.

    Seventeen sailors died in the suicide bombing on Oct. 12, 2000, during a refueling stop in Aden, Yemen.
    Sparenberg's detailed account of that fateful day was published on Nov. 16 in a front-page story in The News Journal of Wilmington, Del.

    Now Sparenberg is back in the spotlight: The Navy and the ship's former commander say he was not on the Norfolk-based ship at all on the day it was struck.

    They don't know whether the flag he donated actually flew aboard the Cole. And the two most significant medals he wore to the Delaware ceremony are also in doubt.

    Lt. John Daniels, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said Sparenberg's orders for the Cole show him joining the ship on Oct. 16, 2000 - four days after the bombing.

    Retired Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, the Cole's skipper at the time, said he distinctly remembers being told after the attack that a new crew member was in Bahrain, waiting to join the ship.

    Someone back in the States asked whether they should send the sailor back to the U.S., but Lippold - who'd just lost 17 crew members, including a senior chief - knew he could use more help. He gave approval for Sparenberg to join the crew.

    "During the time he was on board the ship following the attack, he did an excellent job in helping the ship through some difficult times," Lippold said.

    However, he added, "I know for a fact he wasn't aboard the day of the attack."
    The News Journal has removed the original story from its Web site and says it will set the record straight after the Navy finishes looking into the matter.

    Daniels said he wasn't sure how long that would take.

    According to his personnel record, Daniels said, Sparenberg is not entitled to wear the Bronze Star or Purple Heart. The highest honor he earned in the Navy is a Meritorious Service Medal, shown to the right of the two combat honors in the photo.

    "He was not in the line of fire on Oct. 12," Daniels said. "Him making any claims to being injured in the terrorist act on the USS Cole are not plausible."

    Contacted on Thursday by The Virginian-Pilot, Sparenberg did not directly answer questions about when he arrived on the Cole or whether he wore medals he did not earn.

    "I served on the Cole. I was with some of the greatest American heroes I know," said Sparenberg, who lives in Delaware.

    He said he was trying to make sure the ship's crew was remembered and now has come under attack.
    "I'm not going to say anything. I have no reason to say anything. I have no reason to prove anything," he said in response to a question about the medals.

    Sparenberg said reliving the Cole attack is painful, and that he sometimes cries at night "thinking about what I had to do."

    "I want this part of my life to go away," he said.

    Lorrie Triplett might wish the same.

    Triplett, who lives in Suffolk, lost her husband - Ensign Andrew Triplett - in the Cole attack. In the nine years since, she's raised their two daughters to be proud of their father's service.

    In the Delaware newspaper article, Sparenberg talked in detail about working beside Triplett in the ship's fuels lab in the minutes before the blast. He described how Triplett told him to go to lunch - even mentioned the main entree that day in the galley - and how, seconds after he departed the lab, the detonation rocked the ship. Triplett died; Sparenberg lived.

    Lorrie Triplett said Thursday she has never heard of Sparenberg. She's talked at length with two enlisted sailors who were in the fuels lab with her husband that morning, and through their accounts, she pieced together an idea of what her husband's final moments were like.

    It's unsettling to her that someone the Navy said wasn't yet aboard the ship is now claiming a part in the narrative.

    "It's like tampering with what happened," Triplett said.

    "Why would you want to fabricate something to this extent for that event? Why would you want to say you were there at a tragedy?"

    Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629, [email protected]

    This from Friday's [Norfolk] Virginian Pilot

    Charles
     

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  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Disgraceful. Isn't serving your country enough? Wearing medals you didn't earn is disrespectful to those that DID earn them. It's one thing to embellish a war story, it's quite another to make it up or tell someone else's experience as your own. Shameful.
     
  3. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, its a shame people go to the lengths they do to make them sound like a hero. Like evan said, isnt serving your country enough already.
     
  4. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Shameful, agree with what Eric has said.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    It does look pretty bad, but sometimes its possible to join a ship a few days either side of the official posting. I know because Ive done it.

    He may have been there, and made some bade enemies or something......it may not be what it seems
     
  6. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering the same thing parsifal. The military has a reputation for screwing up paperwork, or for creating a snafu. I was wondering if there was any chance this might be the situation here. I would be hoping that is the case here, instead of someone making up stories and wearing medals he did not recieve to make himself look better.
     
  7. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    When the Navy and the ship's commander said he wasn't on board when it happened, it seems pretty clear that he wasn't there. enemies or not. Also, 2 enlisted sailors that were in the fuels lab also say he wasn't there.
     
  8. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Just hoping there was another reason or excuse, but I tend to agree with everyone here. Just too bad someone has to go to these lengths and dishonor those who have earned their medals and accolades.
     
  9. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    He ain't the only one......

    Ex-N.J. veterans' official pleads guilty in tax case | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/01/2009

    Ex-N.J. veterans' official pleads guilty in tax case

    By Barbara Boyer

    Inquirer Staff Writer

    Vietnam veteran William Devereaux says he has never gotten over seeing his best friend killed during a rocket attack on the 82d Airborne Division.
    "I only found the top of his head and his boots with the feet in them," Devereaux, 64, wrote in a statement he released yesterday morning. "I was never the same AGAIN!"

    Minutes earlier, in Superior Court in Camden, Devereaux appeared more humble as he pleaded guilty to theft related to tax payments.

    Devereaux, a former official with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, apologized for what he called "delusional" and "paranoid" decisions, and for embellishing his military disabilities so he could avoid paying local property taxes.

    Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Leslie Dicker said Devereaux applied for benefits related to war injuries only after he began his job of helping other veterans apply for benefits in 2002.

    Devereaux pleaded guilty to theft under an agreement with prosecutors, who will recommend a 30-day jail sentence that he can serve under house arrest. If the deal is accepted by Judge Irvin J. Snyder, who set sentencing for Jan. 29, Devereaux also will serve five years' probation.

    He has surrendered his job, can never work for the state again, and has paid $54,142 in taxes he owed to Laurel Springs for 2002 through 2008, when he improperly claimed the military exemption, said his attorney, Dennis Wixted.

    Additionally, Devereaux may not work with veterans in any capacity for at least five years. Had he gone to trial and been convicted, he could have faced up to five years in prison.

    "I'm very, very sorry for what has happened," Devereaux told the judge at yesterday's hearing, after arriving in a black jacket emblazoned with the 82d Airborne emblem in red stitching. He asked for "compassion and forgiveness."

    His troubles, however, are not over. Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said federal authorities were continuing the investigation.

    Devereaux was arrested a year ago, when he worked as the director of veterans programs for the state.

    Devereaux first worked for the Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs, in 2001. In 2004, Gov. Jim McGreevey appointed him director of veterans' programs. In that position, Devereaux helped soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

    It was at that time, prosecutors said, that Devereaux learned how to work the system, applying for the tax exemptions and claiming he was 100 percent disabled from the war.

    Devereaux, in attending numerous military functions, wore a decorated uniform that included high military honors, including a Purple Heart, a Soldier's Medal, and a Bronze Star. He also received $34,000 in military benefits federal authorities are reviewing, officials said.

    He claimed he was injured as a paratrooper and artilleryman in Vietnam and later used incorrect military records to qualify for property-tax exemptions in Laurel Springs.

    "It's outrageous that someone who worked for the Veterans Administration would be engaged in this type of behavior," said Faulk.

    Devereaux never received any of the medals he claimed, officials said. Devereaux agreed, calling his behavior "despicable," but said he never faked being in combat or his war-related disabilities when he served with the 82d Airborne.

    "Our unit arrived in Vietnam on Feb. 13, 1968, at Chu Clai," Devereaux wrote in his statement. "Within three hours of landing, we took incoming 122mm rockets and were attacked by Viet Cong from the southeast and were pressed into fire fights. I had been administratively trained and was completely unready to face this type of action, however I did then and for the next five months."

    During this time, he wrote, his best friend was killed 50 feet from the spot where Devereaux took cover during the rocket attack.

    Authorities said it was possible Devereaux had seen combat; according to military records, he joined the Army in May 1967 and was honorably discharged in May 1970. The records show he was assigned as a payroll-distribution specialist to Vietnam for four months in 1968. Devereaux's lies make it difficult to believe any of his story, officials said.

    Initially, Devereaux said, he never told anyone about war-related problems. He said he started treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in 1989 and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, which he said was related to Agent Orange.

    Although the military never gave him a 100 percent permanent disability, which entitles him to additional benefits, Devereaux said he had applied for one and still was waiting for a determination.

    He knew, he said, it was wrong to apply for the tax exemptions and claim medals he never received.

    "I hated how the VA was treating me and the thousands of other Vietnam vets in like situations," Devereaux wrote, adding, "I apologize profusely for my irrational and despicable behavior in this case. However, I can assure you that it was not done with a clear heart or mind."
     
  10. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    I saw this one on another forum.
    I hadn't seen it posted here.
    There are pictures of him at the article I linked.
    I really can't think of anything to say about this type of travesty.

    Hunt for Remembrance Day conman who marched with 'impossible' haul of 21 medals | Mail Online

    Fraud! Remembrance Day conman who marched with 'impossible' haul of 17 medals
    By Fay Schlesinger
    Last updated at 2:05 AM on 05th December 2009


    Cheered by thousands as he marched alongside brave troops during a Remembrance Day parade, he looked every inch the battle-hardened war veteran.
    But on closer inspection, his striking collection of 17 medals - including the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross - was not what it seemed.
    No single servicemen could have been awarded all the medals, and they were wrongly displayed, experts said last night.

    Last night a hunt was under way for the fraudster after he took part in a big Remembrance Day parade in Bedworth, Warwickshire.
    Wearing decorations without authority is a criminal offence under the Army Act 1955.
    Bereaved families of servicemen killed in Afghanistan were among the crowds who applauded as he passed, but organisers became suspicious when they noticed his array of medals. He wore badges from campaigns including the Second World War, Korea and the Falklands, medals for both officers and other ranks, and foreign decorations.
    So proud: Veterans hold military banners at the parade

    The man, in a beige SAS beret, was confronted by a march organiser. He is said to have admitted to being a fake before leaving.

    Martin Harrison, a medals expert from the Bedworth Armistice Day Parade committee, said the display of decorations was clearly fake.
    He said: 'To start with you never wear two rows of medals - you wear one long row overlapping. The entire order is wrong.
    'But the real outrage is over the gallantry awards. Swanning around with things he is not entitled to, especially under the present circumstances, is offensive.'
    ----------------



    Wheels
     
  11. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    About the original post....I hope and pray that they find out that yes, he did check in early, and people are remembering wrong due to the tragedy of the day. But, the realistic side really wants to lump him in with these other two scum-sucking maggots (apologies to all maggots out there): hog-tie them and toss them in a closed arena full of Vets. Take your time, gentlemen, we're having lunch catered in for you.
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    To do such things is absolutely disgraceful and an insult to the rest of the military and former military.
     
  13. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Every ribbon on my old uniform is on my DD-214 except for the one that I received after I was discharged. But I have the commander orders for that medal with the citation. To wear anything else would be unconscionable to me.
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I think that says it right there Eric!
     
  15. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I've thought about ordering a new set of ribbons. I don't have an ID anymore, so can't get on the local reserve base to buy them from the uniform shop, and haven't looked at my DD214 in a while. But I'm with Evan...there's no way I could even think about going outside with a ribbon I didn't earn.
     
  16. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    There are places online where you can order ribbons and the holders. Mine are still in pretty good shape and still on my service dress coat that hasn't been worn in over 20 years. It wouldn't fit anyway.
     
  17. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Unfortunately, I was quite burned out when my enlistment ended, and got rid of 98% of my uniform stuff. I have a ballcap or two, a belt buckle, and a couple of other odds-n-ends, but that's about it. I even cut up my inactive reserve ID after my 2 year inactive status was over. It wasn't until recently that I was able to slap a submarine qual decal on my truck. Once I get these dang bills under control (most are paid off now, thankfully....being out of debt is SUCH an awesome thing!), I'll start lookin at gettin a uniform back in order again. Gotta love those Army-Navy stores!

    Although....if the weather keeps stickin around in the 30s and 40s, I may have to see if they have a peacoat in my size....
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's beyond me why a person wants to pass themselves off as a decorated veteran. Perhaps it's to get attention, or maybe be something that they weren't able to be for whatever reason. In any case, posing as a vet cheapens the efforts and sacrifices made by those who placed themselves on the line and in harm's way.

    To be honest, the "war hero", for want of a better word, rarely shows off, is quiet and hardly ever speaks about what they did or experienced. The only time I recall any discussion about events from any family members or family friends, was around the holidays when they were insulting each other or at the Moose lodge (or favorite watering hole) and again, insulting each other.

    You can also spot vets at places like a Fourth of July parade. They're the ones in regular clothes, doing typical things until the colors pass. I remember many years ago, at a 4th of july parade, there was an older gentleman in a wheel chair surrounded by family, grandkids and such. As the colors approached, he struggled to his feet and his eyes locked on the flag, hat across his chest and had that "look" about him that only comes from those that have been there.
     
  19. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    #19 ccheese, Dec 8, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
    I'm with Eric. My ribbons and medals are in a box in the top drawer of my bureau, where they have been for almost
    thirty-nine years. My wife keeps telling me I need to have a display case made [or purchased] for them but I never
    seem to get a round tuit.

    We just came across the 48 star flag that was on my father's casket when he was laid out in 1935. Now there is a relic
    for you !! I want to have that cleaned and placed in a display box.... soon.

    Lost weight, huh ???

    Charles
     
  20. HookerTF160

    HookerTF160 New Member

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    I agree with you 100%. It takes a truly pathetic individual to steal someone else`s blood, sweat, and tears. To exploit other men`s sacrifices and attempt to make them your own is nothing but cowardly. How such a person is even able to look at themself in the mirror is beyond me.
     
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