Robert Ford decided to dust off his Marine Corps uniform for this year’s Memorial Day celebration in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but instead of honoring his country the 75-year-old ended up fighting accusations that he was simply impersonating a member of the armed forces.
The veteran decided to wear the uniform to his city’s Artsfest, but a soldier who saw the uniform thought it looked a little off and notified a police officer.
The officer, Detective John O’Connor, apparently took no time reaching a conclusion that Ford was indeed a fake. The 75-year-old said an officer approached, shouting in the crowded festival, “He’s not a real Marine! Stolen valor!”
“He made the comment that I have to investigate for stolen valor, which I thought was a little insulting,” Ford said.
But Robert Ford is actually a veteran, serving in the Marine Corps from 1958 to 1964, dates that outlet ABC 27 confirmed with an archivist. Ford hasn’t left his service days behind, either. He has played the bugle or participated in more than 630 funerals, stopping only after he had a heart attack. At the Memorial Day event Ford said the police officer left briefly, but came back with more questions, asking where Ford went to boot camp. The Marine admitted losing his cool, saying he used profanity when telling O’Connor to leave him alone, but at that point the original soldier who thought he was fake joined in as well.
“They both started pointing at me shouting that I was a phony and I was never in the Marine Corps,” Ford said.
The charges weren’t quite right, even if Ford were not a veteran. While many states have laws against impersonating members of the armed services, it is normally reserved for those who get some kind of monetary benefit from it.
Robert Ford isn’t the only person falsely accused of impersonating a veteran. Retired U.S. Army veteran Lindsay Faith was also accused of “stolen valor” by those who said she claimed to be a female Infantry soldier.
Faith responded to the charges and a Facebook group calling her out by posting her Officer Evaluation Report from Iraq, her Army Reserve orders, and her DD214 discharge papers. Fellow serviceman Sgt. Toby Henry also vouched for her.
Robert Ford said he doesn’t want the false “stolen valor” accusations to stand either. He filed a grievance with the local police department, and though Mayor Eric Papenfuse said a preliminary report found that the officer’s actions were in line, the investigation is ongoing.
[Image via PennLive.com]