Phony to be inducted into Hall of Fame?

| April 7, 2010

dick_soops_color

This is Dick Stoops, a Korean War veteran who is about to be inducted into the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, but we have some questions about him. In this article, he claims he was a POW and that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. However the folks at POW Net say that he’s not on the list of Korean War POWs or the list of DSC recipients.

In the article, he claims he made three combat jumps with the 187th Regimental Combat Team, however, the 187th RCT only made two combat jumps during the war – the sum total of all of the combat jumps of the entire war. Stoops also claims he spent three years fighting in Korea, but the overseas bars in this picture indicate only one year. Speaking of his sleeve, I’m pretty sure the Pathfinder Badge has never been worn on the sleeve.

While we’re on his uniform, in the article, he says he was a PFC in 1950, yet the school from which he would have earned those glider wings closed two years before that. He did get it right that the 2d Ranger Company was attached to the 187th RCT, so he’s wearing the right scroll, but there’s so much wrong with his story, it makes me wonder what records the board for the Hall of Fame are reviewing.

The folks at POW Net wondered about that, too, and called the museum. The museum staff can’t remember requesting records and thought his uniform looked a little strange. According to Mary, the Chairman said “I would have thought the Guard checked all that.” Mary thinks that there may be forgery involved, but she applied for a FOIA, so we’ll wait for the outcome of that. Right now we just have questions.

Category: Military issues, Phony soldiers

Comments (39)

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  1. OldTrooper says:

    Jonn, I think, from what I remember, every overseas bar is for 6 months, which would mean if you spent 3 years you would have 6 bars.

  2. Jonn Lilyea says:

    You’re right, I was looking at the wrong sleeve.

  3. NHSparky says:

    Jesus, it’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

  4. Sean says:

    The Cloth Pathfinder Badge was worn from 1944 until 1968 on the lower left sleeve. In 1968 the metal Badge came about. The “Hershey” Bars indicate 3 years Overseas(Combat) duty. The service Stripes show 6 years service minimum, when did he initially enter the service?

    The tucked tie is correct for the WWII/Korean War eras as well, by the way.

  5. fm2176 says:

    I’ll try to find my detailed Rakkasan book that was published by the 187th ARCT Association. If this guy did half of what he claims he is probably in the book somewhere.

    Ironically enough, last week I stopped into Ralph’s Tavern Rakkasan, a small bar between St Francisville and the Louisiana/Mississippi state line. I talked to the bartender and was told the Rakkasan in the name is in honor of George (forgot his last name), a Korean War vet. I was unable to determine if George owns the bar or was a regular patron (the bartender told me his knees are so bad now he doesn’t gt around much) but left a business card and hope to meet George in the near future. I expected pictures, Airborne paraphernalia and so on, but inside the bar there is only a Regimental patch painted on the floor and George’s Rakkasan Association lifetime member plaque on the wall.

  6. dutch508 says:

    Seconded on the Pathfinder badge, but it was usually worn at an angle.

    The tan shirts look a hella lot better than the green ones do. Or the white ones…

  7. Junior AG says:

    “The tan shirts look a hella lot better than the green ones do. Or the white ones…”

    YAAASSS, bring back Khakis!!

  8. Just A Grunt says:

    Where is the rest of the Infantry stuff. The blue cord and the blue background for the brass?

    Interesting about the Pathfinder badge though. Never knew anything was worn on the sleeves.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Those khaki’s do look better, but you had to starch the shit out of them and once they were on for about an hour they were all wrinkled and looked like crap. They were really hot if you had to wear them or were stationed in a hot climate. We didn’t have the long sleeve when I wore them just the short sleeve shirt. Was stationed in Key West Fl after RVN and had to buy the tropical wear permanent press because of the humidity factor. All said though I think they are better than the old brown shirt we wore with the greens. Loved the saucer cap too but that went away for enlisted.

  10. dutch508 says:

    The blue cord and the backgrounds were a later creation. This gentleman is in uniform circa 1955-ish…except the beret.

  11. NHSparky says:

    http://www.homeofheroes.com/members/02_DSC/indexes/3_korea/dsc_korea_list.html

    No listing for Stoops getting a DFC, although there is a disclaimer that they MIGHT not have a filed award letter. In fact, the only high award for anyone named Stoops listed was a Navy Cross for a Thomas M. Stoops in WWII.

  12. NHSparky says:

    Addition to last: Marine Lyle E. Stoops awarded Silver Star on Peleliu. The gentleman who was awarded the Navy Cross was a LCDR on the USS Franklin.

  13. Gary says:

    I am all for busting posers, but the fact that the records are not there may not be enough to nail him. We are talking about nearly 60 year old records. I retired in ’07 and there is all kinds of records missing that I am still trying to get straightened out. Remember we are talking about military bureaucracy, they are not well known for taking care of records. “Oh, I am sorry. This stack of your stuff got thrown on top of the filing cabinet. Tough luck on those awards.”

    Another scenario is that the Commanding General gives the award out but the paperwork never gets filed.

  14. fm2176 says:

    I located my book this morning and saw nothing about this guy in it. I’ll look more thoroughly when I get the time. While he may very well have been a Rakkasan and some of his claims could be true, I find it hard to believe that there is no record of his earning a DSC or being a POW. Also, I find it hard the Regimental historian would overlook a member of the 187th ARCT who earned both the DSC and SS, multiple Purple Hearts and was a POW to boot.

  15. Gary says:

    The POW part is the one that I can’t imagine not being well documented. There should be medical evals upon release, newspaper articles, etc.

  16. Gary says:

    The Regimental Historian not having mention of it is also very unlikely.

  17. fm2176 says:

    A few notes from the regimental history:

    187th ARCT began arriving at the Inchon Beachhead area on 22 September 1951, they had left San Francisco for Japan on ships on 6-7 September; Stoops claims to have been in Korea from June 1950. The war started on 25 June 1950.

    Hill 299 was seized by 3rd Battalion around 0830 on 28 March 1951. 2nd Battalion attacked through their positions to Hills 507 and 519 with Company E leading. March 1951 was also when Stoops claims to have been captured, after being awarded his first Purple Heart and Silver Star by General MacArthur for the “battle of the Unsan on Hill 299”, which according to the story took place in November 1950.

    Speaking of November 1950, the Rakkasans were deployed in and around Pyongyang after their combat jumps into Sunchon and Sukchon on 20 October. By 25 November they were “scattered over a wide area at Sinmac”. (???, no results in searches for this area) Pyongyang is a bit south of Unsan but it is feasible that some Rakkasans may have been caught up in the fighting.

    “On 3 October 1953, the troops moved to Inchon and boarded the USS General Pope for a journey across the Yellow Sea to their home in Japan.” Stoops claims to have been in Korea until October 1953 so this adds up.

    As for the jumps, the Rakkasans made two official combat jumps, but there were actually four different jumps according to the history. 2nd Bn jumped into DZ Easy at Sunchon with 1203 paratroopers on 20 October 1950 while 1st and 3rd Bn jumped into DZ William at Sukchon on the same date with 1470 paratroopers. The following day 671 members of the 187th ARCT jumped into Sukchon. 3486 paratroopers from the Regiment jumped into Munsan-Ni on 23 March 1951. There are also 15 UNPIK (United Nations Partisan Infantry Korea) jumps with anywhere from 3 to 45 US paratroopers in addition to Korean and UK troops.

    All told, this guy’s story lines up with some of the Regimental history, while other bits do not. I can understand being foggy about the date he entered Korea as it was almost 60 years ago. Same with confusing the battle of Unsan with Hill 299. The 3rd combat jump is impossible unless he was part of one of those UNPIK units.

    The POW claim I still find to be odd; how did he make it back to friendly lines, and was he captured after the Munsan-Ni combat jump which accounts for his second jump?

    Gary has a good point about paperwork perhaps not being filed for the DSC and/or Silver Star, but I would imagine that if it was any sort of official award someone would have tracked it; it is, after all, the Army’s second highest decoration.

    Honestly, after comparing some of the ARCT history to the article on Stoops I am less skeptical that this guy is a complete fraud. Still, what’s up with the 5th RTB beret flash (can’t make out the DUI, though it looks similar to the SF one)? Also, the DUIs on his epaulets don’t look like they match and they sure aren’t Rakkasan crests. Nor are they 161st FA. The Background trimming for his Master Parachutist Badge is also odd, closest I can find is the 555th “Triple Nickel”. Rakkasans wear red, white and blue, still have plenty from my days with the unit. I’ve been putting this reply together for two hours now, time to submit it. 🙂

  18. Thomas says:

    There was a fire in 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. Because of this fire, a LOT of Korean War vets’ records were lost forever. I know this as I tried to get a copy of my father’s military records from his time in Korea during the war and I received a letter stating the records were lost in the fire. From what I’ve learned since, almost all the Army’s records from the Korean war era are unavailable.

    That makes it easier for somebody to mis-represent the truth about their service. I’m not saying this man is, but I am saying we’ll probably never be able to prove it either way.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Thomas: there are ways to restore records lost in that particular fire, they’re all listed on the National Archives website. I had a Korean War-era vet who started spamming me with anti-Bush rhetoric in 2008. When I asked him to please stop, he started ranting and raving about how I’m not really vet and that i should prove it to him. So I sent my DD214 (yes, I keep one of my DD214s on my hard drive) and he shut right up. So I asked “Where’s yours?” Of course his answer was that it was lost in the fire. All of that drama about mine and he didn’t even have one.

      Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but the Army gave me three copies of my DD214 and if your records are lost or burned, you can always drag one of those copies out and take it to the VA and get your records restored. You’re also told to file a copy with your county Veterans office when you get home. I did.

  19. Thomas says:

    I’m not saying there aren’t ways, but if you, as a surviving family member, submit a request to the DoD for a copy of a veterans’ records that were destroyed in the fire, you will get, as I did, a letter from the DoD saying that they were lost. I’m just telling you what happened to me. Now I was able to get a copy of my father’s Air Force records, but he served in the Air Force after his time in Korea.

  20. Thomas says:

    BTW: I have a copy of my DD214 plus I have a copy of my micro-fiche records! 😉

  21. Lemmy says:

    Great job! Keep up the fire. If this guy is exposed as a fake, he certainly doesn’t deserve to stand next to hero’s.

    The Quratermaster Museum at Fort Lee, VA says the Pathfinder patch was originally approved on May 22, 1964 where did Sean find it authorized prior?

    Someone, who is in the US, needs to call the museum for the KNG and get their email and then send this website to them as a link. Also here is the link to the information from the Quartermaster Museum at Ft. Lee.

    http://www.qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/airborne/pathfinder_badge.htm

  22. Sean says:

    The Pathfinder Patch was Officially HQDA authorized in 1964 but was worn from 1944 onwards by Regimental Pathfinder teams(Both Beacon and Security elements) after the Normandy Jump.

    Combat stars on Jumpwings were only Officially authorized in the aftermath of Grenada, yet were worn from Sicily onwards.

  23. KnowToMuch says:

    Another one bites the dust.

    As a historian, I’m quite familiar with the 187th in Korea. No records exist that show 187th ever served north of the Chongchon River. Case closed on that one. Unsan is quite a bit north of the Chongchon along the Kuryong River.

    The time period of major actions at Unsan was November 1-2 1950 with the 1st Cavalry and again in late November involving Task Force Dolvin of the 25th Infantry Division.

    A real hero, Captain Reginald Desiderio, E Company 27th Infantry, received the Medal of Honor posthumously for actions during Task Force Dolvin on November 27, 1950. Desiderio Hill – Hill 207, 3.86 miles southeast of Unsan.

    Stoops is in a different league than a real man like Desiderio. Real men don’t need to tell stories.

    Stoops was never at Unsan. Never happened. The 187th had a completely different mission in blocking positions south of the Chongchon. Their mission at the time was not to attack at Unsan or anywhere near Unsan.

    Also can’t find Hill 299 on any of the period maps of Unsan-Ipsok-Kuryong River.

    Three Stoops appear in the incomplete DOD data on casualties. This in itself is not conclusive but in any event, the 187th or attached units were not at Unsan, ever, so no casualties could appear on any list.

    Fred A Stoops 31st Infantry – October 14, 1952
    James A Stoops 72nd Tank Battalion – September 13, 1950
    Oliver D Stoops 21st Infantry – September 21 1951

    This is a bit similar to the “187th” veteran who was “promoted” from basic recruit to Master Sergeant to First Sergeant to batttlefield commission to First Lieutenant (claims skipped Second Lieutenant) and Company Commander at age 19 without actually being in the Army.

    As for three tours in the Korean War with major decorations? Never happened. The 187th losses ended in early June 1951, and losses again occurred in 1953. It was not the mission of an airborne unit to act as regular line troops. The 187th returned to Japan, guarded POW’s at Koje, and fought at the Kumsong Salient in 1953.

    And the Ranger units were eventually disbanded into 1951.

    For obvious reasons, these jokers pick elite units and few, even veterans, know how to debunk these claims. The St. Louis fire claim is true in many cases, but many of the records do in fact exist and many veterans have in fact obtained most if not all of their files. The key is making a request through your US Senator. This guarantees a request does not hit the round file and increases the chances of getting records.

  24. Doug Jacobs says:

    Is it possible, sure, anything is possible. Based on the information available to date, SFC Stoops is legit. His DD 214’s show the awards, the reconstructed 201 file has the awards, his induction records to the Kansas National Guard has the wounds indicated and it is signed by a military medical doctor. If there are records to the contrary I would like to have copies otherwise I can’t see anything that would change my mind about Richard Stoops. For all who wonder about his induction to the Hall of Fame his military record is not the primary factor, is it considered, yes but that is not why he was selected. Records that have been lost, destroyed, or burned may results in questions about legitimacy and I am appalled as everyone with imposters. I know Dick Stoops and I think he is a Hero!

  25. M Helm says:

    Having studied POWs in Korean War, I find the statement “He lived in a hospital tent in a North Korean POW camp for five-and-a-half months” to be quite suspect, especially at that stage of the war. POWs in North Korea had almost no medical care, although there was a point in time when they were experimented on by embedding animal livers under their skin to absorb toxins in the blood. A hospital tent was where a dying man was dropped off several days before he was expected to die — not to recover, especially for more than five months. In addition, he would not have been released until the fall of 1953, so the “three tours” thing seems quite unlikely. At the time, McArthyism was so rampant, they suspected almost every ex-POW as having been tainted by communism — I have never heard of a KW ex-POW being allowed to go back into service in Korea.

    To be fair, the possibility exists that the reporter got the story wrong, however…

  26. fm2176 says:

    Hopefully we’ll find out the truth soon, but it is very possible that this could be a combination of a slightly inaccurate news story and an old vet’s fading memories of near 60-year-old battles and events.

    Whatever the case, this has piqued my interest as Stoops may be either a legitimate hero who happens to be a Golden Rakkasan and one of the last of a dying breed or an outright phony undeserving of any claims to the Regiment. Then, too, there is the possibility that he is “merely” an old man who fought in a nearly forgotten war and who, for reasons unknown (and perhaps not understandable) to us, remembers or claims events, places and dates that we can look back upon with perfect hindsight and know to be inaccurate. Until we know, I’ll continue to sit on the sidelines and wait for more info on him.

  27. LEW VILLA says:

    During the Korean War the second Ranger Co. was all black unit and were a very proud unit.Know as the “Bufflo Solders”
    LEW VILLA
    1st AIRBORNE RANGER CO.
    POW OF THE CHINESE FOR 870 DAYS

  28. Someone else in Dallas says:

    I agree with post #26 by Doug Jacobs. Thank you sir.

    I know the man as well and I agree he is a surviving hero.

  29. LPD Patrol says:

    Dick Stoops is a good guy, an honorable guy and I find it completely unlikely that he would lie about his service.

  30. Sporkmaster says:

    With all things considering, it is hard to believe people’s claims on someone’s good word when they reach these levels.

  31. Steve says:

    Apparently, he has been exposed as a liar: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/07/24/2104758/watchdogs-labor-to-expose-liars.html

    His military records indicate he was in Korea a month, and he is not in any POW or DSC databases. And, the two medal citations (DSC and SS) were taken verbatim from two others’ citations.

    Maybe he’s a “good guy,” but it appears he’s also good at lying about his military service.

  32. Vic says:

    2d Airborne Ranger Company were all African American including it’s Officers.

  33. EdUSMCleg says:

    This one is recent… Appears he is on the Executive Committee of the 35th Infantry Division Association…

    http://www.35divassn.org/home.aspx

  34. EdUSMCleg says:

    Also interesting: He was mentioned in this book about the 82nd… No DSC but quite a few other awards. Ok, I will quit adding to it since it is old news. Just get bored and google old posers every now and then lol

    http://books.google.com/books?id=0_j1VTNOh5gC&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=sfc+stoops+korea&source=bl&ots=_j2xZOf_DX&sig=OOZQ9XaLMUi4in0gjglByRhafec&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DncuUdP3Fojs9AT0kYC4Bw&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=sfc%20stoops%20korea&f=false