The Army’s Stolen Valor case

| May 21, 2010

We here at This Ain’t Hell know how difficult it is to prove that people aren’t who they say they are. Jesse Bernard Johnston seems to have been able to bring that point home to the Army;

Jesse Bernard Johnston III, 26, joined the Army Reserve in February as a sergeant and was assigned to the Corps Support Airplane Company based at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station. But he wasn’t qualified to hold that rank, according to military records obtained by the AP. The records show that Johnston’s only military experience was attending part of a 12-week Marine officer candidate course for college students in 2004.

He managed to award himself a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He even convinced, for two years, an Army Reservist who married him of his false story. The Associated Press outlines the consequences of the Army’s failures;

The matter, currently under investigation by the Army, means a soldier received a security clearance and was in position to lead troops in combat even though he hadn’t gone through basic training or spent any time in the service.

I don’t think it was quite that dire – he perpetrated the fraud earlier this year and was busted on it within a few months.

If it’s proven that Johnston gained his Army rank based on a phony Marine record, it would be the first documented case of so-called “stolen valor” in which the military was duped during the enlistment process, according to watchdogs of such fraud.

It was a family court case rhat busted him, though;

In a recent court proceeding, Johnston’s former wife, also an Army reservist, accused him of using falsified documents to make it appear he’d served in the Marines. Melanie Rolfing, 24, made the claim in a sworn statement filed last month in Fort Worth family court when she had her two-year-old marriage annulled, alleging fraud. Johnston did not contest the annulment.

Thanks to Paul for the link.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Phony soldiers

Comments (8)

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  1. Old Tanker says:

    Just saw this and was going to let you know about it but see that I’m just a little to slow…..gotta be on your toes around here!

  2. Doug Sterner says:

    Note he is wearing the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (up-side-down) along with his Bronze Star and Purple Heart. We’ve (the reporter, Mary Schantag, Congressman Coffman, and I) for six weeks. It gets more damning!!!!

  3. Virtual Insanity says:

    It’s on HuffPo, too:

    He made it to Fort Rucker for training having been sent by his unit in Texas…would it be correct to assume that someone at the unit must have helped him build the record set that would allow him to get there?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Pogue warrior!

  5. Jesse says:

    It’s not a big secret that some people in the military are full of shit and I’m sure all the veterans that read this have run across more than one bullshitter in their military careers. That being said, I’m sure all of us can spot a phony soldier a mile away and discern a real story from a fake one after about two minutes of conversation. After reading the article, I don’t understand how this guy could have gone to military functions in his dress uniform without one person questioning his background and recognizing that he was a fake–I’m sure there were numerous red flags.

  6. Debra says:

    Jesse (#5) wrote:

    “That being said, I’m sure all of us can spot a phony soldier a mile away and discern a real story from a fake one after about two minutes of conversation.”

    Maybe most, but definately not all. One of the commenters here, Ben (whoever he is), posted on my personal blog that he thinks I’m a poseur. That shows that not everyone knows what to look for or what to ask if they are wondering about something. Seems to me that if there is a law against making false claims of military service, there ought to also be a law against falsely accusing someone of being a poseur.

  7. Virtual Insanity says:


    I was the personnel officer in a unit when we caught one…an NCO in one of our platoons. My PSNCO (former infantryman wounded in Grenada and forced to reclassify) caught the discrepancies while he was putting together this guy’s E-6 promotion package. He had falsified his records when he hand-carried them back from Germany to the States as a SPC. He added Airborne, Ranger school, HALO, and college transcripts. Once we keyed in on it, it took one day to pull apart the story. He had been in the unit for two years as a SGT.

    Sometimes, you just don’t know until you know.

  8. John says:

    This guy wants to be soldier etc, simple solution make him one. Put him on the next flight out to Afhganstan, let him be a bullett catcher so that one of the TRUE Guardians of our great nation doesnt become a casualty.