Most regular TAH readers probably remember this guy – based on his rather hosed-up uniform, our proverbial “bag of ass”:
NPRC found his records. Here’s the unredacted photo.
His name is Kenneth Ray Braden. Here’s the FOIA reply concerning his official military records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in Saint Louis, MO.
Turns out the guy did actually serve. He was in the TN ARNG; he was a tank crewman and MP.
Braden did in fact deploy to Iraq. He did see action and receive a CAB. Braden was combat wounded and received the Purple Heart. He did receive a personal decoration (an ARCOM), presumably as an EOT award for his tour in Iraq – along with the NDSM, the GWOTEM, the GWOTSM, the AFRM w/”M”-device, and the ASR.
Braden’s records also state he has the “Army Overseas Training Ribbon”. That’s obviously an error – there is no such award – but I think that’s a typo for something else. That entry could be referring to the “Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon”, or ARCOTR – a Reserve-Component-specific, ribbon-only award. Per AR 600-8-22, para 5-3, that would require Braden to have done an AT (or a period of ADT) outside the US (operational deployments do not qualify). That’s possible, but IMO unlikely. However, that entry could also refer refer to the OSR; if so, that’s legit. Braden should rate an OSR for his tour in Iraq per current Army policy. My guess is that the entry in question is supposed to refer to the OSR.
OK, that’s the good news. He in fact served. Now, the bad news.
Per NPRC, Braden has no Silver Star and no BSM w/OLC. He has no ICM.
He has no MFO Medal. And he has no CIB. He appears to be wearing all of those in the photos above. (Author’s note: as pointed out in the comments, the top inboard ribbon may well be the NDSM. I’ll give Braden the benefit of the doubt on that one, assume it is in fact the NDSM, and that my aging eyes had drifted out of calibration when I identified it originally as the MFO Medal.)
In short, he’s indeed MSU (Making S#!t Up).
To me, this is the type of stolen valor case that’s just frustrating as hell. Braden served in combat, and apparently served in combat honorably and well. He received an ARCOM for a tour in the “sandbox” as a very junior soldier (less than 2 years total duty at end of tour). He saw action, was wounded, and received the Purple Heart.
In short: his service while on active duty was honorable, competent, and worthy of praise. What he actually did is pretty damn impressive. He had no good reason to lie about it.
But, like someone else we know (hello, Dallas!), that just wasn’t good enough for him. Braden just had to take a trip down Route MSU and turn himself into some kind of “Great American Hero” – a hero his records say he really wasn’t.
That’s sad. Just freaking sad.
Can’t say I’m shocked, though. Turns out there are some other pictures out in Internet-land that appear to provide second-source confirmation of the guy’s identity.
That’s even sadder.