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75-Year-Old Veteran Falsely Accused Of The Unthinkable

On Memorial Day weekend, Robert Ford, a 75-year-old Marine Veteran attended ArtsFest wearing a Marine's dress uniform. That's when an army soldier approached Detective John O'Connor in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania because he was suspicious of Ford's wrinkled hat and ornate belt buckle. Ford was working at the event when the officer shouted to the crowd "He's not a real Marine! Stolen valor!” To say that Ford was humiliated was probably an understatement.

Ford did serve between 1958 and 1964, which was cleared by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and archivist from Pueblo, Colorado, who works with stolen valor cases. Sterner said "He's as legit as you can get." In addition, Ford is active with local veterans. Anthony Flaynik, the commandant of the local detachment of the Marine Corps League, noted "He gives up his time volunteering for honor guard for veteran funerals every three weeks. He comes out in the rain, shine, hot, cold. We need to do what we can to help him." Ford states that he attends ArtsFest on Memorial Day every year. He puts on his dress blues, visits the cemetery, takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony and purchases presents for his granddaughter at the festival.

When O'Connor asked Ford where he went to boot camp, Ford responded "What am I trying to do? Impersonate a lance corporal who never served in combat?” After the incident, Ford filed a complaint against O’Connor and Capt. Deric Moody said he would investigate. However, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse supported O'Connor, saying, "It is unfortunate that Mr. Ford was wrongly accused. But our initial findings indicate police officers acted appropriately and respectfully in this incident."

Photo: Fox 43

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