A Brooklyn Army veteran has been exposed after claiming to be a Green Beret who earned several accolades and medals for his service, according to military documents obtained by Guardians of the Green Berets.
Brooklyn Army vet Papotia Reginald Wright claimed he served as a Green Beret, but according to documents obtained by a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, the veteran did not serve for 25 years, never served in a combat role and never went above the rank of specialist.
According to the records, he served from 1982 to 1990 and was mostly a driver in Alaska, Texas, Georgia and Egypt.
Wright has been seen in photographs wearing a fake Green Berets uniform with a Special Forces patch and a Purple Heart while at a New York Giants football game.
Wright also created the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard, an organization to help veterans. Wright told Guardians of the Green Berets that he was given permission by SWC at Fort Bragg to use the name for the organization. However, Guardian of the Green Berets could find no proof that Wright as given permission to use it.
Guardians of the Green Beret said they began investigating Wright after receiving several tips that he was lying about his service.
“It bothers us. Stolen valor is an epidemic. We cannot keep up with the cases sent to us,” the group told the New York Post. “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.”
Army veteran Jeff Johnson, who worked at the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard, said he was “heartbroken” after finding out.
“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,” Johnson told the New York Post. “For a while I just started chuckling. It was like this uncomfortable chuckle. That’s when I realized I was played for a friggin’ fool.”
On one occasion, Wright gave Johnson a Special Forces patch, saying that he had filled out all the appropriate paperwork.
“I did feel odd wearing it,” he said. “There’s a sacred aura to it.”
Wright also referred to Johnson as a colonel even though Johnson served as a major.
Johnson attended two events with Wright, one of which was a gala for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which was attended by General David Patraeus and Meghan McCain.
“When I look back on it I realize why he needed me there — to make it look legit,” Johnson said.
In a Facebook post on Nov. 29, the 8th Special Forces Regiment New York Honor Guard said that the would be investigating the claims and they would stop posting to social media.
“Information has been posted on the internet which we were not aware of until this month of November 2017. As a result we will look into the matter, therefore we will be closing our social media until further notice,” the post read.
According to the Stolen Valor Act, it a federal crime to fraudulently claim to be a recipient of military accolades for benefits. An individual could face up to a year in prison and a fine.