Stolen Valor - Tuskegee Airmen

Discussion in 'Stories' started by muscogeemike, May 13, 2012.

  1. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    In Tyler, TX, a man - Samuel M. Garrison Jr. - died in Nov 2011. For several years he was a very public local figure. The city even named a new VA Facility after him.

    His notoriety was due entirely to his claim to have been a “Tuskegee Airman”. At various times he claimed to have been a P-38 pilot, to have been in many “dogfights” and to have “put 10 enemy planes out of commission”. He wore many different medals on his Red blazer along with both Cpt and Col rank insignia.

    The public readily accepted his stories (as evidenced by their putting his name on the new VA facility) despite some voices questioning his claims.

    This week a local reporter published a long exposé disproving almost everything this man had claimed, and the city is “re-considering” his name on the VA building. It can’t even be definitely established that he was ever in the military let alone the “Tuskegee Airmen”.

    All along people questioned Mr. Garrison’s claims. None of the units comprising the “Airmen” (99th Pursuit/Fighter Sq., the 332d Fighter Grp; and the 477th Bomb. Grp - which didn’t go overseas) flew P-38’s; no pilot of these units shot down 10 enemy aircraft; the different ranks he claimed; there was much confusion about the medals he wore, some that weren’t from that era. The Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (the group that represents the “Airmen”) couldn’t verify his service. Yet the local people refused to hear anything but that he was a bonafide WWII hero.

    There is speculation that Mr. Garrison suffered from dementia and may well have believed his tales.
    That may be true but I think that the local people are using this as an excuse to explain their culpability.

    Mr. Garrison did a huge disservice to the real Tuskegee Airmen, to WWII Vets and to all vets. People (especially media reporters) should stop taking our (Vets) “war stories” at face value, many (maybe all) of us embellish our service at times, it is human nature. After telling these “tall tales”, over and over, all too often we begin to believe them ourselves.

    I have seen and heard reports for years where it is obvious, to anyone who is at all familiar with the subject, that the reporter did no research and had just taken the vets story as he told it. This failure continues the publics’ beliefs in many historical myths.
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    The reporters failure to do research? I think its atrocious that whoever has the authority to name VA buildings (and I'm guessing that they would have to be experienced with the military in some way) couldn't do the research! Amazing.
     
  3. futuredogfight

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    Wow, just, just wow. What a jerk!
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Ugh, another one. And I agree, Chris, the VA should be able to verify an individual's service before allowing a name to go on it. I wouldn't feel deserving of that honor in any way, shape or form. It's shameful that some people have to live their lives telling people other people's actions and claiming them their own.
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    To save face, Perhaps the Tyler VA should rename the facility to honor all of the red-tails...it'll make the VA look generous (and rightly so, the Red-Tails should be) and allow them to save face for honoring an imposter atthe same time...

    Just a thought
     
  6. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    I feel that another factor is in play with this story. Mr. Garrison was black, if any reporter was to question his credentials he/she would fear the uproar from the strong black community in the area. This is the culture we, in the US, live in. Especially since our current President was elected.

    Mr. Garrison has not only done great disservice to the real “Tuskegee Airmen” but to the black community as well. Their credibility is now in question and I don’t think they
    realize it.
     
  7. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    It could be that, but often, the respect of the elders comes into play. We had a guy down in Orange County here named Roland Sperry who claimed to be a Flying Tiger, shooting down Japanese Zeros, etc. He even had a book published that was allegedly non-fiction. A lot of people bought it, hook, line and sinker. These days, reporters are far too eager to file a story and don't ask questions. Sad.
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Most of the real vets I have ever had the honour to talk with are most reluctant to talk about their real exploits, let alone make up ones for other people. And most airmen dont boast about "putting ten aircraft out of commission"

    True or not, this guy was not walking the higher path by saying what he was saying.
     
  9. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Indeed. Spend nough time with some of these guys and it's easier to sort the wheat from the chaff.
     
  10. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The name of the place is the Watkins-Logan-Garrison Veterans Home, the first two men received the Medal of Honor.
    I'm not going to blame this on politics, that's too easy. Somebody screwed up, big time.
     
  11. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Agreed, not political, just merely fact checking.
     
  12. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    MLK is rolling over in his grave. I'll not comment anymore for fear I may get political.
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    back in the 80s and 90s i had a store and sold firearms out if it. i was licensed and the whole 9 yards. i was never into hunting so my inventory was always military style stuff and pistols. with the time being so close the the 'Nam era it seemed that everyone who came in to browse and fondle the guns were all former airborne ranger, green beret, SF working with MACV, SOG, or some super secret program. i knew all of these stories were BS ( except for a few ) and just let them ramble. the worse one was this guy buying a pistol...he told me how he was in such and such unit and when chasing the VC had to jump into Laos...when i got his info from his drivers license he was 2 years younger than me!!! and i was too young for Nam. some people feel the need to make themselves important and impress people...unfortunately its at the expense and reputation of the good people whose experiences they steal.
     
  14. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    I had the same experience in Mena AR. I was getting my hair cut and commented on a picture of a C-46 on the wall. The barber told me he was a Tech. Sgt with the Flying Tigers and he was Gen. Chennault’s personal pilot! He was not happy when I questioned him.
     
  15. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    I agree, in my experience the guys who do the most talking - did the least. In VN the vast majority of service men did not see combat yet most guys you talk to will claim to have “seen action”. I have seen reports that as many as 1 in every 3 men who claim VN service were not there.
     
  16. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    Could this go towards proving my point? Instead of objectively addressing the issue of reverse discrimination Njaco implies my comment is politically (perhaps racially?) motivated.
     
  17. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Knowing Chris (njaco) personally, I do not believe (by making the comment about MLK) that he was implying anything, politically or racially. IMHO he did not want to comment further for fear of going political.

    Charles
     
  18. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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  19. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Correct Charles. I was actually commenting about my own post and no reflection on anyone else. I just didn't want to go further into all the intracies of racism today. Just keeping my cool. Sorry Mike if I wasn't so clear. :(
     
  20. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Don't worry I share the same feelings.

    The problem however is that this sort of thing happens whenever you question anything about the Tuskegee Airmen. Try and explain to some people that the tail of them never losing a bomber is just a myth and not true. People have been called some pretty terrible things for that, even on this forum right here.
     
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