A man who claimed to be a Green Beret lost during the Vietnam War was exposed as a fraud.
In the documentary “Unclaimed,” a man named Dang Tan Ngoc alleged that he was Army Sgt. 1st Class John Hartley Robertson, who went missing following a helicopter crash over Laos in 1968.
“Unclaimed” premiered on April 30, 2013 at the annual GI Film Festival, but one day after, the Defense Department released a statement saying that the man in the film was an imposter.
The film, directed by Michael Jorgensen, follows Vietnam veteran Tom Faunce, the man who suggested the documentary be created.
When first taking on the project, Jorgensen said he was extremely skeptical when Faunce said he wanted to reunite a missing veteran who had been presumed dead for decades with his family.
“The MIA story was pretty unbelievable, pretty grandiose,” Jorgenson told the Globe and Mail. “Tom went to meet him and was very skeptical, grilling this guy up and down, trying to get him to break”.
After the two talked with Ngoc and his translator, they became convinced he was Robertson.
Gail Metcalf, the daughter of Robertson’s last living sibling, Jean Robertson-Holley was in the film and witnessed the reunion between Ngoc and her mother. The family members were convinced that Ngoc was the missing veteran.
During the film, Ngoc had a tooth removed and provided it to Faunce. After it was analyzed, it was revealed that Ngoc was “very likely” an American.
“This test proves you are an American and a veteran and a hero,” Faunce said in the film.
Contradictory evidence is evident in the documentary such as a misstated birth date and a reference to an unnamed government source saying that DNA tests had been completed and turned over to Robertson’s family.
Later it was confirmed through a DNA test that Ngoc was an imposter.
“We have received the results of the [nuclear] DNA test, and sadly there was NOT a match,” Robertson’s niece, Cyndi Hanna, wrote on the GoFundMe webpage that raised money for the DNA test, Stars and Stripes reported. “This is very disappointing.”
“Regardless of DNA test results, my family does believe the man we’ve met is an American, a strong likelihood bolstered by the oxygen isotope analysis performed on his tooth” Metcalf said.
“As my mother has said, we only want to do right by my Uncle John, and if that means exploring the possibility that the U.S. government has made a mistake or that the man claiming to be my uncle is actually another lost American and doesn’t know who he is, we intend to seek the truth on our own terms,” she added.
The contents of a memo from a 2009 report by the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office revealed that Ngoc “was a 76-year-old Vietnamese citizen of French origin who has a history of pretending to be US army veterans,” The Independent reported.
The memo added that Ngoc’s claim came to the attention of the U.S. Army in 2006, but he admitted to lying. He claimed to be Robertson once again in 2008, but after fingerprinting tests conducted in Cambodia, it was found that he was not a match.