Before you read this article, please note that at the bottom of the Guardian of Valor article mentioned in the next paragraph, the author of that article stated that a woman who claims to be the daughter of the man reached out to the organization, informed them that her father was in fact a Marine, and that she was sending documents to prove it; and the article will supposedly be updated as soon as that paperwork is received and verified. Neither I nor Internet Brands — the company which owns FlyerTalk — endorse or deny the allegations or accusations in any way whatsoever.
“I would like to make a serious suggestion: Post the fake Marine’s picture on the FT home page, along with a request: if this guy is on your flight, give him your 1st class seat, then send his boarding pass to guardianofvalor.com” is what FlyerTalk member RatherBeOnATrain posted here pertaining to a professional football player who gave up his seat in the first class cabin aboard an airplane to a person who some claim is an impostor posing as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Well, RatherBeOnATrain — your request came to fruition and became a reality…
…at least, the part about the picture appearing on the front “page” of FlyerTalk, anyway.
DeAngelo Williams — a running back for the Carolina Panthers team of the National Football League — “tweeted” a photograph while exclaiming “I always give up my seat to military if my seat is better! I truly appreciate our troops” while aboard an airplane operated by Delta Air Lines prior to a recent flight.
The problem is that the man dressed in full military garb may not be a real Marine, explained FlyerTalk member relangford: “From the photo, it sppears that the person is not a Marine, at least not one who has received such medals. It’s the wrong uniform for travel (wearing the actual full-sized medals); the order of medals isn’t right; he is wearing his cover indoors; and he would not be carrying his gloves with that uniform. It seems suspicious. I would assume DL has complete information on the traveller. Wonder if he used an active duty ID to get through TSA checkpoints? I really hope this isn’t a case of ‘stolen valor’. The Federal courts have ruled that stolen valor only applies to situations in which something of value was received due to the deception; would an flight upgrade from a fellow passenger fall into that category?”
Perhaps no one should rush to judgment and jump to conclusions about the subject of this controversy, opined FlyerTalk member arlflyer: “I’ve seen coverage of this story all over the web, and it’s been pretty amazing how quickly active duty or recently retired folks are willing to ‘swift boat’ this guy. He looks like he’s about a hundred years old, who knows what he’s been through in his life. Could he really not be some crusty old vet from decades ago who maybe has gone downhill a ways Maybe he’s lost a couple screws and embellished things with some picked-up medals but I don’t necessary see that everyone should be rushing to hang him for treason. Here in DC you can see lots of vets ‘wearing the uniform incorrectly’ – most of them are homeless and/or mentally ill. No one rushes to claim that they aren’t vets.”
That is not exactly a flattering commentary for the man in question — but what if arlflyer is correct?
I know one thing is for certain: I personally would not purchase a military-style uniform — let alone go out of my way to procure one — and then wear it every time I fly as a passenger simply to garner upgrades, visit airport lounges for military personnel, and any other special treatment; but then again, I would not do what this guy supposedly did either, as neither supposed action makes any logical sense to me. Whenever I travel, I like to dress as comfortably as possible, and — please forgive me if you are a Marine reading this article — that uniform does not look comfortable to me at all.
Although the unidentified man allegedly might possibly be engaged in a bit of passive yet intentional deception by purposely imitating a member of the United States Marine Corps — hoping to take advantage of the generosity of fellow passengers who would give up their seats in the premium class cabin to thank those who served their country — FlyerTalk member FWAAA is equally critical of DeAngelo Williams: “I’ve never been impressed with people who advertise their own good deeds, and that goes for celebrities like Mr Williams or random Flyertalkers. Much better to simply do good deeds and not seek attention or notoriety for them. Every few months, someone will post about how impressive they are because they gave away their upgrade to a soldier as if they’re the first person to ever do something nice for a member of our armed services. Patting oneself on the back is never attractive.”
I am not about to get involved in the debate about whether or not passengers should give up their seats for those who serve in the armed forces, as that is one of the most hotly debated topics on FlyerTalk — causing discussions such as this one to be locked from further posting.
Perusing the comments posted by readers of The Gate in response to an article I wrote back on March 1, 2013 where I asked “Should Military Personnel Airline Passengers Receive Special Treatment?” illustrates just how controversial is this issue. It is a debate which may never be resolved…
…but if you are the type of person who enjoys giving a seat to a member of the military as a token of your appreciation and as a generous gesture, you may want to carefully consider ensuring that the person you choose is indeed actually a member of the military — because if he or she is not, sitting in that seat in the economy class cabin may suddenly feel just a little bit more uncomfortable for you…