War stories have been inflated, fabricated, and exaggerated by current and former political figures for years. The recent coverage of NBC News anchor Brian William and his embellished war story about his near-death experience in the Iraq War in 2003 is not new.
Former and current politicians have made up war stories about events that never ever happened to them. In addition, though they were caught in their lies, they were able to enjoy lucrative careers in their profession.
Former presidents of the United States are included in the list of misleading war stories. For instance, former President George W. Bush defended his military record by claiming he was in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War for six years.
According to Mashable, prior to Bush’s 2004 re-election, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported claims that Bush received special treatment from a commanding officer during his time with the National Guard.
However, this falls into the category of false and fabricated war stories because it is not true. The story by Rather was later found to be based on faked documents. In fact, the former president did not serve six years in the National Guard. In 1972, he was suspended from the Texas Air National Guard for not showing up for a medical exam. He claimed he served six years, but the truth is he only served four years.
What’s interesting is how war stories like this prior to George W. Bush’s re-election still made it possible for the president to be re-elected. After the investigation was brought to an end, Dan Rather’s career was over and he left the network. Some claim Rather was forced to retire.
War stories like the one from former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States Hillary Clinton are added to this list of fabricated war stories.
When Clinton ran for president in 2008, she recalled one of her experiences during the Bosnia War when she was the First Lady. She claimed she was with a group at a Tuzla airstrip when she and the group were attacked.
Clinton elaborated that she had to duck and run for her life across a tarmac to escape being hit by sniper fire. However, video showed her greeting locals at the airstrip with no sniper fire. Clinton later said she misspoke about dodging sniper fire; it never happened.
Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan joins the list politicians and celebrities with misleading and false war stories. Politico reported about how President Ronald Reagan told the prime minister of Israel that he’d filmed the Nazi death camp as a U.S. Army photographer.
Reagan also shared a version of his death camp story with Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. However, by his own admission, Reagan couldn’t have filmed the death camp because he never left the country during World War II.
One more to the list of fake war stories is the one about former Wisconsin U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy. According to TPM, McCarthy was given a commission, and he retired from the Marines as a captain. He became a commissioned officer because of his education.
This joins the list of war stories, in that he later claimed he’d enlisted as a private. He also claimed to have flown more missions than he had actually flown. He bragged about receiving a letter of commendation from the Chief of Naval Operations.
However, McCarthy actually wrote the letter himself. Even though McCarthy made up this war story, he enjoyed brief success due to the work he’s famous for: chief Communist witch hunter on Capitol Hill and chairperson of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Vice President Joe Biden joins the list of politicians who told false war stories. Vice President Joe Biden said he was once aboard an Army helicopter flying over mountains in Pakistan and Afghanistan when it was forced to land, implying Al Qaeda was shooting at the aircraft.
ABC News reported Joe Biden’s comments about the event that nearly cost him his life.
“If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.”
The helicopter was not being shot at. In fact, the pilot and crew landed the aircraft due to a snowstorm. Joe Biden could be running for president in 2016. More than likely, his exaggerated war story and implication will not affect his campaign too much. It hasn’t had much of an adverse effect on his political career, so far.
However, one might assume war veterans and current military service men and women probably don’t appreciate the exaggerated, fabricated, and false war stories politicians and celebrities use to gain success. Perhaps, Americans don’t place much value on them, as well.
[Image courtesy of Future War Stories]