Gary Wayne Gilbert; taking Stolen Valor to the grave

| February 11, 2014

We wrote about Gary Wayne Gilbert last July when Pat sent us his obituary. His family claimed that he was a POW of the Vietnam War in the obit, and we found some incidents of him publicly claiming to be a POW in addition to his Alabama POW license plates. Well, Mary sent us his FOIA yesterday, and there’s no mention of a POW medal;

Gary Wayne Gilbert FOIA

But that didn’t stop the folks at Arlington from putting “Prisoner of War” on his headstone (marker 54-2108);

Gary Wayne Gilbert Arlington Headstone

Arlington has opened an inquiry (#146215) on the placement of the headstone, according to our friend Mike McGrath, a real Vietnam POW for more than 5 years in Hanoi, and if you’re interested in their progress on correcting this egregious error, you can call and ask Arlington how the inquiry is going at 1-877-907-8585.

If you look at the FOIA, you’ll see he had a distinguished career and there was no need for him to pretend to be a POW, yet there it is.

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (28)

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  1. Arby says:

    WTF? Doesn’t Arlington research that stuff before it goes on the headstone? Idiots…

  2. Andy says:

    wtf. this guy had a legit purple heart,25 air medals (I think you got one per 5 combat missions) and 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, but that wasn’t enough for him, he felt the need to claim POW? And 2 good conduct medals so he was prior enlisted that got a commission. That’s a career anyone could be proud of, but no, he lied.

  3. OWB says:

    It apparently is expecting too much for folks to actually check eligibility, or details like something as simple as whether a vet was a POW.

    Disgusting.

  4. Green Thumb says:

    Sad.

    This man did have one hell of a career.

  5. Sparks says:

    Why oh why do that to one’s self and family! If I had a record of decorations like him I would be standing proud. 25 Air Medals, DFC w/ OLC, Bronze Star, Purple Heart! I mean what else do you need for your war stories? Oh yea, while I am at it…I was also a POW. Just does not compute in my head. Now the family will be going through all this again. Sad just sad.

  6. Beretverde says:

    I just learned of a Col. who passed away nine years ago. He claimed to the grave a Distinguished Service Cross. It is in his obituary. He did not receive the DSC. One of my “buddies” received a DSC and another a Silver Star that was down-graded. All are dead and it pisses me off.

  7. Martinjmpr says:

    @1: That was my very first thought. Is POW status indicated on a DD-214? I know there’s a POW medal, but other than that, how would it be shown? Just wondering if he had a faked DD-214.

  8. Hondo says:

    I will never understand why anyone would attempt to falsely claim being a former Vietnam/SEA POW. Along with being a MoH recipient, that’s just about the easiest claim to check. Comprehensive and authoritative lists are publicly available listing ALL Vietnam/SEA POWs who were returned alive or escaped from captivity.

    If an individual isn’t on one of these two lists, they didn’t return alive from being a POW in Vietnam/SEA. Period. Civilians taken POW (there were a few) and members of all 4 military services are included on these lists, as are people who were only held briefly (at least two were only held for a day).

    http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/pmsea_returnee.pdf
    http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/pmsea_escapee.pdf

  9. MrBill says:

    His record is enviable; no need for embellishment to boost his ego. Could there have been a financial reason to claim POW status?

    • Janet says:

      This is a terrible way to treat a dedicated American and soldier. His DD214 shows that he was a prisoner of war and the family has numerous evidences of his service. He had so many honors bestowed on him that they did not have room on the tombstone to list them all. How dare you treat his dedication,life,service, and his honor with such disregard. Leave our soldiers alone. How are you profiting from this trash?

  10. Jason says:

    Dig his ass up and make his estate pay for a new headstone.

  11. Jeff says:

    I was a personal friend of Mr. Gilbert and his family for years. He in fact did spend 30 months as a POW in Vietnam after being shot down, no doubt about it. He was one of three that made it out of captivity from a “cave type” holding area where many did not survive. He didn’t talk about it, was very humble about his military career and was the only one of the survivors of that captivity that returned to full service and served his country until retirement. He was a very honorable, kind person, and always simply considered himself a “soldier” I didn’t even know the true depth of his story or his many medals, etc. until after his death. Possibly not a lot of records of his POW status readily available due to the fact he didn’t want to “get out” of the Army after Vietnam, he wanted to continue to serve simply as a soldier and make his advancements based on the job he did with no special considerations. He loved his country and freedom… This post/blog is a sad, strange misdirected, unfounded attempt by somebody for some reason to defile a true patriot and hero’s honor. It should be taken down ASAP it’s untrue.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      The only Gilbert listed among Vietnam POWs is Paul F. Gilbert whose remains were returned in 1993. But, hey, I guess you know better than actual POWs who were there, huh, Jeff?

    • Green Thumb says:

      Jeff, why don’t you follow Jason’s advice right above you if you were tight with this man.

    • Hondo says:

      To amplify on Jonn’s comment above, “Jeff”: Gilbert was obviously alive until July 2013. So if he were ever a POW in Vietnam, he returned from Vietnam alive.

      That in turn means he would have to have been (1) among those POWs released in 1973 or (2) he escaped from captivity.

      Here’s the URL for the list of POWS those who were returned alive in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War. It’s the official list maintained by DoD.

      http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/pmsea_returnee.pdf

      Here’s the URL for the list of those POWs who escaped captivity in Southeast Asia. It’s also an official list maintained by DoD.

      http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/pmsea_escapee.pdf

      Gilbert’s name would also appear on this consolidated list of POWs/MIAs in Southeast Asia who have been accounted for had he ever been a POW. Like the other two, it’s also an official list maintained by DoD.

      http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/vietnam/reports/documents/pmsea_acc_p_name.pdf

      If Gilbert were ever a POW in Vietnam, he’d be listed on two of the above three lists. Given the story he told you, if his story were true he’d be on the escapee list. He’d also be on the accounted-for list.

      His name is not on any of those lists.

      As Jonn noted above, only one individual with the last name Gilbert was ever held POW or went MIA in Vietnam. That individual did not return alive, and was indeed the individual Jonn mentioned in his comment. He was a USAF officer who was lost in 1972 when his AC-130 was shot down over South Vietnam. His remains were repatriated in 1993.

      Gilbert was never a POW in Vietnam. If he ever told you he was, he lied to you to your face.

  12. ChipNASA says:

    So, welcome to this week’s ZOMBIE THREAD?!?!?

    /4 months ain’t *that* bad.

  13. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    Jeff says:
    June 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Dear Mr. Jeff A. Sockpuppet,

    He was not a POW, never will be and it has been proven that he was a Valor Thief in life and you are perpetuating it in his death.

    Well done!

    You are dismissed!

  14. Jeff says:

    Mr Gilbert was extricated / rescued, not released, but was captured in Areas where we (US) were not (officially operating) during the conflict, therefore, the lack of official docs, easily explained … If this site is managed /patrolled by true US veterans, you understand and will remove this offensive material.. It would break his heart…If it’s manned by a bunch of US Military haters, I’ll understand if it stays up. Truth is the truth, haters are haters, patriots are patriots. This is really sad if you guys are real military vets letting such dishonor spoken about a soldier. I’ve seen the entire file, don’t defame him anymore, please. No special treatment ever requested, none granted…respected in death is all I ask.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Yeah, well, you’ll notice that we provided you with documentation. All you’ve provided us with is hot air. And, yes, we are real veterans, so we know bullshit when we see it. If you want to believe those stories and look like a fool, go ahead, that’s your right. We’re all chuckling at your blatant ignorance.

    • Hondo says:

      Jeff: you’re in denial, fella. Grab your self by the proverbial stacking swivel (if you can find it) and snap yourself out of it.

      You were lied to. Gilbert was never a POW in SE Asia. The DoD lists are comprehensive. Even those lost or taken prisoner in Laos and Cambodia are listed there.

      Getting lied to and deceived certainly hurts – especially when it’s someone you respect, a friend, or a loved one who does it. But a man gets over it, faces reality, and carries on.

      Man up.

    • Bobo says:

      Jeff,

      Any soldier who was unaccounted for in combat for almost three years would certainly be recorded on official records as MIA, POW, or DUSTWUN. Additionally, there would have been statements collected by those also involved in the operation in which he went missing in an attempt to determine his status. This would have been done regardless of the location and nature of the operation. It appears that none of that was in his official record, but I’m sure that Arlington can access his complete DD-214 and 2-1 to see his complete list of duty statuses. Once that is complete, we will all know the legitimacy of his claims.

      The DoD has provided a means for next of kin to add the POW medal to a deceased service member’s record via http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/medals/pow/. You’ll see that they would like Army separation documents, casualty reports, messages/letters/telegrams sent home, unit journals, diaries, sworn eyewitness statements or affidavits, photos, ID Card, or other documents taken or obtained while in captivity, or news clippings and other evidence. I’m sure that one document from the generous list must be available to his family.

    • MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

      Sorry Jeff,

      He is dishonored in death now, due in large part to you.

      And one more thing, KMR32YEARSOFHONORABLESERVICEIA!

      That is all!

  15. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “Arlington has opened an inquiry (#146215)….[Y]ou can call and ask Arlington how the inquiry is going at 1-877-907-8585.”(TAH)

    There you go Jeff. Have at it. When Arlington replaces the headstone with one omitting “Prisoner of War” please let us know. My guess is that you won’t. You’ll just slink away silently probably mumbling about a conspiracy bewteen TAH and Arlington. Whatever. Keep this thread alive. It helps to spread the word.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      looks like Jeff and Janet are goin to be in for a rude awakening when Arlington looks into this. Maybe they need the services of two “crack lawers” who can help them?

      BTW, “Janet” How did HE profit from lying? That’s what Stolen Valor is all about… and what Gary Wayne Gilbert did while he was alive. I guess he wasn’t happy that he served honorably for 20 years and collecting a retirement check from Uncle Sam.

      • Hondo says:

        HMCS(FMF): ex-POW plates are tax-free and very low cost in most states. Try that for starters as to how he profited.

  16. nbcguy54 says:

    Hey Jeff. How about telling us a little about your service in the military? We’d like to understand why you think that those of us who are trying to uphold the honor and integrity of real veterans are “bad guys” for busting out folks who “embelish” or just flat out lie about their service. I reckon that if you’ve spent time in uniform, perhaps lost a friend or two, you’d understand where we are coming from. If not, then you just don’t get it.
    If you are privy to legitimate documention that the DoD somehow doesn’t have, I’m sure we’d all be interested in seeing it as we understand that sometimes the government does make mistakes in matters such as these. But I find it hard to believe that MAJ Gilbert’s name is not on any POW database, this status was not listed on FOIA paperwork, and is not included in his DD-214. As he retired one year after President Reagan authorized the issuance of the POW Medal, it is conceivable that he would not have been awarded the medal and it not show up on his paperwork, but it’s hard to believe that 3 years of POW status has been erased from legitimate documentation.
    Out.

    • Hondo says:

      Or better yet, “Jeff” – if you have or can get a copy of any actual documentation regarding Gilbert’s POW status (not press accounts, which are often inaccurate or based on lies told by fakes), just send it to the site owner, Jonn Lilyea. His contact info is listed under “Contact Us” above.

      However, be advised that Jonn knows – or knows people who know – what “right looks like”. And what faked or altered docs look like, too.

  17. Pat says:

    Just got off the phone with the Arlington National Cemetery POC. Was informed that Human Resources Command are reviewing documents that the family has shared with them as well as what HRC has in Gilbert’s records.

    Arlington was very appreciative that Mike McGrath brought this discrepancy to their attention.

    Hopefully, the grave marker will be changed soon to reflect the TRUE status of Gilbert’s time in the service.

    Am speculating that he may have received non-taxable POW payments from our Government….and if someone does not catch that one, he literally not only STOLE VALOR, but also STOLE Money/Compensation that his Widow/Family may end up having to repay.

    Sorry, Jason. Sorry, Linda. Sorry, Jeff. You all became victims of a “victimless” crime….the STOLEN VALOR Act.

    Hopefully, someone will be brave and take down the memorial in Birmingham Alabama that has his name annotated there in stone as a Vietnam POW at the Alabama Veteran Memorial. Will save a lot of future heartaches (looks as if they are now coming in, all because of this man’s lies.