Army vet Papotia Reginald Wright’s decorated career as a Green Beret includes a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and a number of other medals—or so he says.
The New York Post, citing military documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, reported that Wright allegedly never served as a Green Beret and did not go beyond the “specialist” rank.
Records showed that Wright served from 1982 to 1990, and spent most of his time as a driver in Alaska, Texas, Georgia, and Egypt, the Post reported. However, Wright said that he served in the U.S. Army for 25 years and got the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Last year, he started an organization in Brooklyn to help veterans, calling it the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard. On the website, it shows Wright at a New York Giants football game with an allegedly fake Green Beret uniform.
Any person who comes up with “provisions relating to fraudulent claims about military service were subject to a fine, imprisonment up to a year, or both,” according to the Stolen Valor Act.
Guardians of the Green Beret told the NY Post that they got tips from Internet users about Wright.
“It bothers us. Stolen valor is an epidemic. We cannot keep up with the cases sent to us,” a member of the group told the newspaper. “Wearing fake stuff—wearing a Ranger tab, Special Forces tab, those things are hard to earn. Wearing a Purple Heart … that stuff’s unforgivable there.”
“It wasn’t confirmed to me until three or four days ago when I got a call from one of the members of the unit who was heartbroken,” 11-year Army vet Jeff Johnson told the New York Post. He had worked in Wright‘s organization.
“For a while I just started chuckling. It was like this uncomfortable chuckle. That’s when I realized I was played for a [expletive] fool,” he said.
Johnson said that Wright told him a military story where a person cut out his kidney. “He said he was living off half a kidney,” Johnson said. “He’s an amazing storyteller because he will get into details.”
Wright has yet to respond to the claims in a public setting.
The 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard VSO’s Facebook page made an announcement in late November.
“Information has been posted on the internet which we were not aware of until this month of November 2017,” the post read. “As a result we will look into the matter, therefore we will be closing our social media until further notice.”
On the Facebook page, people were posting articles about Wright’s alleged deception.
It’s not clear if he will be charged with a crime under the Stolen Valor Act.
And veteran Thomas Miskel, who worked with Wright’s Honor Guard group for months, said he’s processing the accusations.
“He started to appear before football games and all that and the flags and all that,” he told The Post. “He sort of blew my mind a little bit when I found out that bugle he was blowing was a recording.”
He then claimed that Wright hasn’t paid his rent at the Armory building in Park Slope, where his group’s offices are located.
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