An undated photo of Jesse Bernard Johnston III, 26, cutting a Marine dress compatible with ribbons and medals — alike admitting annal appearance he never served in the Marine Corps. Despite not accepting a aggressive background, Johnston was able to accompany the Army Assets in February and was accustomed the rank of sergeant. (AP)
FORT WORTH, Texas — A Texas man with no aggressive acquaintance tricked the Army into absolution him access a assets assemblage as a noncommissioned administrator beforehand this year, a bamboozlement that placed an green soldier in a administration position in a time of war, an Associated Press analysis has found.
The adumbration comes aloof months afterwards the Army drew criticism for declining to banderole the apprehensive activities of the Army analyst now answerable with killing 13 and acid dozens of others at Fort Hood.
The case, abundant in cloister annal and added abstracts advised by the AP, raises added questions about the Army’s adeptness to vet soldiers’ backgrounds as it faces connected burden from Congress over its screening and annal system. While the soldier never deployed overseas, some say the case demonstrates how calmly addition could affectation as a affiliate of the U.S. military.
Jesse Bernard Johnston III, 26, aing the Army Assets in February as a baker and was assigned to the Corps Abutment Airplane Company based at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station. But he wasn’t able to authority that rank, according to aggressive annal acquired by the AP. The annal appearance that Johnston’s alone aggressive acquaintance was accessory allotment of a 12-week Marine administrator applicant advance for academy acceptance in 2004.
Maj. Shawn Haney, backer for Marine Manpower and Assets Affairs, said Johnston didn’t complete the course’s final six weeks. “He was never advised a Marine,” she said.
The matter, currently beneath analysis by the Army, agency a soldier accustomed a aegis approval and was in position to advance troops in action alike admitting he hadn’t gone through basal training or spent any time in the service. The Corps Abutment Airplane Company has been deployed in Iraq, accouterment pilots as able-bodied as intelligence and abutment cadre for an aerodynamics army set up to abort improvised atomic devices.
If it’s accurate that Johnston acquired his Army rank based on a affected Marine record, it would be the aboriginal accurate case of alleged “stolen valor” in which the aggressive was bamboozled during the application process, according to watchdogs of such fraud. Most cases absorb attempts to get veterans’ allowances or added forms of banking gain. Congress attempted to able bottomward on aggressive impostors in 2005 by casual a law that makes it a abomination to affirmation apocryphal decorations or medals.
“This aloof raises some abundantly cogent issues at a time back this country is complex in a all-around war on terror,” said Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who served with the Marines in Iraq and the aboriginal Gulf War. “If this being was able to access the aggressive fraudulently, you accept to ask the question: Couldn’t somebody who was out to do abuse to our country do the aforementioned thing?”
Coffman is blame for the conception of a distinct database for all aggressive annal as a footfall against eliminating fraud.
Army officials, citation an advancing investigation, beneath to accommodate capacity of Johnston’s application or say whether he’s doubtable of accouterment apocryphal abstracts or application some added agency to accomplish himself out to be an ex-Marine.
Questions about Johnston were aloft by an administrator who grew anxious back Johnston couldn’t abundantly explain how he got assertive Marine medals and ribbons that he displayed. The officer, speaking on action of anonymity because of the advancing investigation, said he contacted Marine and Army acknowledged authorities and abstruse from the Marines that Johnston never served.
Lt. Col. Maria Quon, backer for the Army’s Human Resources Command, said her database contains an access assuming Johnston aing the aggressive in 2002, but there are no abstracts to abutment the 2002 date. She declared the abridgement of affirmation as abnormal and said it acceptable agency the date was entered this year. The National Cadre Annal Center, which collects advice on all who accept been absolved from the military, a the AP that it could acquisition no affirmation that Johnston anytime served.
Since March, Johnston has been stationed at Fort Rucker in Alabama, the primary training abject for Army aviation. The Army beneath to accommodate capacity of Johnston’s assignment. Johnston did not acknowledge to buzz and e-mail letters gluttonous comment.
In a contempo cloister proceeding, Johnston’s above wife, additionally an Army reservist, accused him of application biased abstracts to accomplish it arise he’d served in the Marines. Melanie Rolfing, 24, fabricated the affirmation in a affirmation account filed aftermost ages in Fort Worth ancestors cloister back she had her two-year alliance annulled, alleging fraud. Johnston did not challenge the annulment.
In her affidavit, Rolfing said she met Johnston in 2006 and that he aing her Army Assets assemblage so they could accomplish their dream of acceptable Army aviators together. She said Johnston led her to accept he’d served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan and becoming a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He would alike appear aggressive functions cutting a Marine dress uniform, and bodies would appear up to agitate his duke and ask about his medals, she said.
“I don’t apperceive who Jesse Bernard Johnston III is, but I do apperceive he is not the man he claimed to be,” she declared in the affidavit. Rolfing, a baker in Johnston’s unit, said the Army has ordered her not to allocution about the case publicly.
The abstraction that a airy soldier could be hidden in the Army’s ranks has fatigued aldermanic analysis back Maj. Nidal Hasan opened blaze on his adolescent soldiers at Fort Hood in November. Afterwards the shootings, affirmation emerged that Hasan behaved accidental and maintained ties to a aitionist Islamic cleric. The Army has banned aldermanic requests for abstracts account what the Army knew about Hasan’s behavior, citation the advancing bent case.
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