Marines are Semper Fi. Michael Weilbacher was Never Fi.
Weilbacher pretended to be a US Marine and went around wearing a Navy Cross he had never earned. He was also spotted wearing a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars he had never earned. He even wore those medals to a Marine Corps Ball here in St. Louis. Other Marines became suspicious and, with the help of the FBI, outed him as an imposter.
Weilbacher has pleaded guilty to wearing a congressionally authorized medal he did not earn. That was a misdemeanor when he was arrested, but has since been elevated to a felony by the Stolen Valor Act. When he’s sentenced April 13th, he’ll face up to 6 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Today on my show, I asked whether Weilbacher deserved jail time. I heard from many Marines (there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine) who unanimously wanted this guy in the slammer. In fact, that punishment would be mild compared to what they would like to do to him. They all said that those who haven’t worn the uniform — as I have not — can’t understand their feelings about someone lying about earning those honors and wearing them in public.
Other members of the military (Army and Air Force) who called didn’t think Weilbacher should do time in prison — they said that humiliation and exposing his fraud was enough, but he should have to do some community service, like in a VA hospital.
Then there’s this perspective from Roosevelt, a retired Army officer:
I agree that the act is egregious and is indicative of a person with low self-esteem and class. However, it seems to me the only reason a person would wrongly wear a military uniform is because he/she sees the uniform as something to be proud of in our society today. In a twisted sort of way, you could say that this act is a form of flattery. A person can degrade the uniform, but in no way can a person’s stupidity disgrace the substance and character of our great military. The actions of the person wearing the uniform were brainless, mindless and dim-witted at best, but in my opinion not criminal. We need to keep in mind that no so long ago in this country, a military person did not want to wear his/her uniform or medals because of how negatively they were viewed and treated. As the saying goes, imitation is a form of flattery. I don’t suspect that people are out there imitating Dog Catchers or Port-a-John Cleaners. Let’s face it; our government should be ecstatic that our military is worth imitating.