Staff Sergeant Joshua Stokes; active duty NCO alters records

| January 19, 2018 | 57 Comments

The Army Times tells the story of Staff Sergeant Joshua Stokes who faked his way into the 82d Airborne Division despite the fact that he hadn’t attended the Basic Airborne Course. He even had performed parachute jumps. The director of the Defense Military Pay Office told investigators that Stokes had never received jump pay.

Stokes had put a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman Badge in his records, even though he had never deployed to combat.

After pulling records from EMILPO, the investigator discovered that in one instance, 10 records had been added to Stokes’ file on one day in 2007, many of them for events years earlier.

They included an Army Commendation Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge and two Overseas Service Ribbons. When contacted, the clerk who inputted the decorations said that, per policy, she only added awards into the system when she had physical documentation to support them.

“It is likely that SSG Stokes was able to produce false documents … to have these put into his records,” according to the report.

It’s a good, long, complicated story that you should read at the link.

The upshot is that Stokes has been administratively separated from the Army, but they won’t discuss the character of his discharge.

Thanks to AW1Ed for the link.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (57)

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  1. Frankie Cee says:

    An active duty poser is more stinky than someone who never served, to me. Screw this guy.

  2. Hayabusa says:

    Well, performing static-line jumps without ever having been to Airborne school is ballsy, I’ll grant him that.

    • OldManchu says:

      So mentally ill he was unable to judge risk. Imagine the danger he could put troops in if he was stupid enough to static line without the training.

      That must have been hard to contain all the hoo-ah of his actual first jump when he had to fake like it was just another day.

    • Some Guy says:

      My first thought as well. All of his gray matter must have wandered into his ballsack to pull that stunt.

      • SSgt. USMC says:

        All of his brown matter certainly filled his skivvy’s. He has a “real” hashmark” now.
        Walks in step with 2 dozen flys alternating trips to his airborne ass.

        This guy’s next jump school is gonna be the “junp-inna-4 holer” as a scuba diving barrel inspector.

    • Slick Goodlin says:

      If he did make jumps without going to Airborne School it’s not like he would have been entirely clueless.

      Jumpmasters are required to conduct airborne refresher training before every jump.

      As for him being a danger to other jumpers, unfortunately, when I was a Jumpmaster, I witnessed numerous qualified jumpers act like they had never exited an aircraft in flight before.

    • rgr769 says:

      What I want to know is how he was able to get orders assigning his to an airborne slot without an airborne indentifier in his MOS, since his records showed he never went to jump school. Every set of assignment orders I have list my MOS on them.

  3. 26Limabeans says:

    “This appears to be a case in which the command identified misconduct and took appropriate action,” Buccino said.

    Uh, no. This is a case where the shitbag was able to fool a lot of people for a long time.
    Never should have been able to happen.
    The guy was actually able to get on a bird and jump for god’s sake!

    • Tom Huxton says:

      who is fooling who? who is more afraid? the guy who never jumped or the zebra drawing jump pay who hasn’t jumped in 10 years. paper jumps can kill you.

    • Ret_25X says:

      someone probably got curious about the BS and checked…on occasion you can get the source files behind the ERB and that can be illuminating….

      Like the “SSG” in my unit who was actually a SPC but faked some orders.

      I think there was some buddy aid in that one, but no one could prove it.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    Looks like he outclevered himself.

    • HMC Ret says:

      As clever as he was he was also infinitely stupid. Hell, he gave himself awards for the time he was in high school. Honest to God, I’d like to see this guy do hard time with Bubba. This is a YGBSM story.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Frankly, Chief, I’d rather see him cleaning heads and running the wall buffer, myself, but they just don’t know what real punishment is, any more.

      Perhaps some quality time at the burn pits will straighten out this guy’s egomania.

  5. Mustang Major says:

    Similar situation in the mid ’80s at Ft. Benning Ranger school. A SSG Ranger instructor in the Ft. Benning phase was found to have faked his Ranger school completion credentials. He somehow became an instructor in the course. He was found out and faced some sort of UCMJ action.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Some serious infiltration skills, wasted by dancing with the Good Idea Fairy.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Mata Hari fooled a loooooot of people, too, mostly those who thought with their zippers.

    • AndrewRink says:

      Sounds similar to the LTC put in charge of the Warrior Training Center at Ft. Benning which serves as the Pre-Ranger, Air Assault, and Pathfinder schoolhouse for the National Guard.

      He was discovered to be wearing an unearned Ranger Tab, Sapper Tab, Air Assault badge, Expert Infantry Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation, a Combat Action Badge, and an Army Commendation Medal with “V”

  6. thebesig says:

    Originally posted by Jonn Lilyea:

    The upshot is that Stokes has been administratively separated from the Army, but they won’t discuss the character of his discharge.

    If I could get a middle name, I might be able to get a hint. It depends on how long they update him in the system though.

  7. HMC Ret says:

    Knew a Corpsman early 80s when it was discovered he had pencil whipped a deployment to the Viet of the Nam. Must have been a bad ass, too, b/c he got Bronze Star (V), 2 Purple Hearts and the usual stuff associated with a tour there. Don’t know the circumstances, but he disappeared. Another guy gave himself some minor awards, nothing dealing with combat or heroism. Didn’t we have a guy here, a year or two previously, who had established himself as a badass over a period of decades. When the opportunity came, he inserted many awards, I think between assignments, some for heroism. Also included was a picture of him as an officer. That’s about all I remember of that case. Well, go big or go home. I suppose gundecking records would be much easier with the help of clerks. Anyone know of any clerks who were in on a fix such as this?

  8. Dave Hardin says:

    Once again, I should have spent more time taking things out of my records. I once got a conduct mark of 2.3, I worked my ass off for that.

    Insofar as jump school goes, whats the big deal anyway?

    Gravity does all the work.

  9. Mick says:

    And, of course, he also falsely claimed to be a sniper.

    — sigh —

    From the article linked above:

    ‘He also claimed to have completed Sniper School and, according to his Enlisted Record Brief, spent three years there as an instructor. “I was informed by [a Sniper School NCO] that they never heard of Staff Sgt. Stokes as an instructor or student,” the investigator wrote.’

  10. Jay says:

    Shit….around 2006 my admin section somehow dicked up and added an AFG Campaign Medal to my record instead of a 3rd award GCM….don’t ask me how. I was like oh no, oh no no no….take that shit out NOW. I earned it for real in 2013….and to be honest i’m more happy with my 6 GCMs and recruiter ribbon than anything. I think I more than earned those.

    • Ret_25X says:

      had to go round and round with a clerk who kept taking an ARCOM out of my records because it did not say “5th OLC” on the documentation.

      Dude, you are looking at orders for 6 ARCOMs…don’t matter if some other nitwit made a mistake…

      I swear, we deliberately recruit the sick, lame and lazy for MOS 42A

  11. Steve1371 says:

    Maybe he went to work for Sen. Bluminthal. That guy has what it takes to be a politician.

  12. PJS says:

    Thank goodness he didn’t con his way into the DFAC; what carnage might have ensued!

  13. Wilted Willy says:

    You think this guy inserted a lot of shit into his record, just go back and look at my pos brother David “Doc” Shrum and take a look at all the medals that he gave himself. And this all from a fucker who just sat in a chair and made false teeth all day! Tell me how he would get a distinguished flying cross, not to mention jungle warfare school. He must have made some really badass false teeth. I hope someday I can get someone interested in his case so he can be put back in prison where he belongs. Plus this fucker never supported any of his many children from 4 wives! A true lowlife cocksucker!

    • thebesig says:

      Wilted Willy, I haven’t followed your history from the beginning, but was your brother featured on this or another site for making false military claims?

      If not, go to the provided link. You could request his official information, releasable via FOIA request. Being his brother, you’d be able to furnish as much information as needed to get results. The link provides details on how you could make the request. Once you get the results, you could contact the admin here via the contact section of this site.

      They’ll review what you provide and may post the results the way they’ve posted previous research efforts.

      Without concrete information on what he did, versus what he claims to have done, not much may happen to your brother.

      Based on what I’ve read of your posts, you’re in position to make much of what you hope above happen for real.

      Here’s the link:

      • just some feller says:

        In the last month I have had TWO SF-180s denied (for family members); the stated reason for denial was that the living vet had to sign the form!!!! [Which is incorrect.]

        I followed-up (they provide a case number and return envelope) with the letter format; I recommend using the letter format with the following highlighted text:

        This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This information does NOT require the written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains.

        Per the site:

        The public has access to certain military service information without the veteran’s authorization or that of the next-of-kin (the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister) of deceased veterans. Examples of information which may be available from Federal (non-archival) Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) without an unwarranted invasion of privacy include: [see more at below url]. …. Most information in a Federal (non-archival) Official Personnel Folder (OPF) is not releasable to the general public without the written consent of the individual whose record is involved. The Freedom of Information Act does allow, however, for certain information to be released without the individual’s consent. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has determined that the following information can be released to the public: [see more at below url]

        Hell … I had to quote their own policy back to them!

        Yesterday I finally received one of the FOIA records I requested; hoping #2 shows up soon.


  14. Graybeard says:

    I thought I was keeping a pretty good scoreboard of 2018 posers – but how in the world am I supposed to classify all these creative fools?

    • Mason says:

      You haven’t added a column for good old “jackass”?

      • Graybeard says:

        That would be an all-inclusive category, Mason.

        We were wondering at the end of last year about whether there were more phony SEALs exposed on TAH, than other categories. So I’ve been trying to keep a running record in the back of my 2018 calendar. Trying to classify “Real Service, Fake Claims” in any way that shows, say, served but claimed SEAL vs never served but claimed SEAL, is challenging.
        I may have to get more general with my categories, though.

  15. just the truth says:

    CSM Richard Barr Cayton did same years ago, and he claimed POW. Only discovered after retirement when he went to the newspapers about a fire. TX prosecutors cut a deal.

    • rgr769 says:

      And the only reason he was prosecuted is because Mary Schantag went after him and pestered a general officer and the authorities for many months to take action. He even pulled the “Lawer Move.” I still have a copy of the lawer’s cease and desist letter and Mary’s response with attachments proving he was liar (i.e., being in two different locations at the same time).

  16. USMCMSgt (Ret) says:

    Is TAH going to host a Stolen Valor Tournament this year?

    (It’s been awhile)

  17. Martinjmpr says:

    WRT jumping without having been to jump school, when I was at Bragg from 1992 – 96, the Division would often do “fun jumps” on Saturdays for those who needed a jump to maintain their jump pay (the slang for this was that you were a “pay hurt”, i.e. if you didn’t jump you’d lose jump pay.) These jumps were open to anyone who was on jump status.

    They would even publish these in the post newspaper, the Paraglide.

    IIRC the only requirements were that you showed up to the DZ in BDU uniform with your K-pot (helmet), ID and a copy of your hazardous duty orders putting you on jump status. They’d bring the aircraft in on the FLS (Field Landing Strip) and just start putting together the jump manifests and jumping.

    I heard stories (second hand, of course 😉 ) of guys who were not airborne qualified either dummying up a set of orders or borrowing their buddy’s ID card and orders and going out and jumping. I could easily see it happening, given how much of an assembly-line atmosphere these kind of jumps have. A non-jumper could easily just look around and do what the others in the group are doing and I doubt anyone would really pay much attention.

    • SSG Kane says:

      There’s a story from a few years ago, about a Reservist CA sergeant who’d never been to jumpschool and jumped with the 82nd airborne while at JMRC. HIs defense may or may not have been “Well no one ever asked me if I’d been to jump school”.

      Now I have no idea if that’s true or not. But I do know that when I went to JMRC as an OC two years ago that we were told we had to ask anyone who was jumping (either with US forces or the Britts) if they’d been to jumpschool.

  18. AZtoVA says:

    Bet he’s rocking a vest, doo-rag and a SEAL tat by now…

  19. Martinjmpr says:

    Of course, this article raises a few questions, too. The foremost to me is:

    How does an Infantry NCO who is serving during a period when there are two wars going on, and who serves in two of the most deployed units in the Army (10th Mountain and 82nd Airborne) never deploy to the sandbox?

    Something is jacked up somewhere when we have Joes serving multiple deployments while this clown sits back on the block and watches it on TV.

  20. Atkron says:

    Shit…I took my SH-60F Airframes training out of my records so I wouldn’t get stuck on the Sea Wall at NAS JAX, and could get 12 miles away back to NAS Cecil Field and fixed wing aircraft.


    I guess he got through those untrained jumps fine…..somehow?

  22. Casey says:

    According to a war story I read, during the Vietnam War a group of Montagnards put in for jump pay. The US advisers decided to have a little fun and announced a surprise practice jump.

    The ‘Yards took a while getting the gear on, but they managed that. They also managed the jump.

    They got the jump pay.

  23. Roger in Republic says:

    My first(and only) static line jump came after about three hours of training (Most of it standing around waiting to take my turn at the exercise) I jumped, closed my eyes and let the process develop. Chute opened and down I came. I was surprised to be flying in perfect silence. Ground instructor reminded me to put my feet together and I hit the marker dead center. Like I always said “why practice something that has to work perfectly every time”.

  24. RGR 4-78 says:

    He stokes the fire of his own demise.

  25. Green Thumb says:

    Can’t be the real deal, just fake it.

    Infantry is not just a job, its a lifestyle.

  26. A Proud Infidel®™ says:

    I’m sure we’ll hear more about him in times to come, primadonnas like that can’t help themselves.

  27. Reddevil says:

    This has happened before 2when there was no intent to defraud:

    The problem is usually just the opposite- it’s always hard to find sane people who are willing to jump out of an airplane as a routine part of the job. This is especially true for non combat Arms MOSs, who tend to join the Army for different reasons than your average 11B or Cav Scout, etc.

    As a result, 18th Airborne Corps always asks for volunteers at the repo depo- non- airborne support guys willing to go to the 82nd, which means they volunteer for jump school. They are called Airborne Volunteers.

    it is not uncommon to have a supply clerk, mechanic, cook or truck driver walking around with no wings, waiting to go to jump school. You even have troops that got hurt during Jump Week and won’t get their wings until they complete their fifth jump in division.

    Of course, you are supposed to take these guys under your wing (‘cuz they ain’t got any) and make sure there is a good solid NCO that ensures they are prepared for jump school or their remaining jumps,which have to match the Basic Airborne Course instructions- you don’t just throw them into a nighttime, combat equipment, mass tactical airborne assault into Rock DZ at NTC.

    While static line parachuting does not require a whole lot of skill for the individual, especially if compared to HALO, there is a very high level of risk, and there are a few things that the Jumper can only do for themselves to prevent serious injury or death. This isn’t skydiving or even your typical ‘airborne’ unit doing a jump and assemble on a Friday with the Family support group running a hot dog sale at the turn-in point. This is a mass-tax after an 18 hour emergency deployment sequence followed by a realistic field problem

    On a nighttime mass tactical jump you are exiting 100 troopers per plane, 1 second apart out of two troop doors at 800 feet. A brigade drop will have 6 or more C-17s. There are literally 100s of troopers in the air at any given moment, most of whom are E-4 and below with less than 20 jumps.

    If something goes wrong, you have less than 10 seconds to figure it out and take appropriate action- and you waste 6 of them waiting for your parachute to open. Then there are weak exits, collisions, actions in the aircraft etc.

    Only the Rangers, the 82nd airborne division, and the separate Airborne Brigases do this routinely. I’ve know Master rated (static and HALO) SF guys that avoided jumping with the 82nd.

    “The sky, even more than the sea, is terribly unforgiving for even the slightest mistake.”

  28. johnq says:

    When I was in the 82nd, some private showed up to the ReppleDepple before going to Benning. Some E5 tuned him up about not having wings and told him so sew wings on. The kid sewed on his wings, went to his unit, jumped, and was on his way to a second jump before someone asked for his hazardous duty orders. THAT’S when they figured out their screw up…

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