Guest post; Randy Voepel; phony wounded veteran

| March 29, 2018

The curious case of California Assemblyman Randy Voepel, his wild tales of military derring-do and a welcomed challenge by Command Master Chief (SEAL) Larry Wilske, USN (Ret.).

By:  MCPO Terence B. Hoey, USN (Ret.)

March 29, 2018, New York City

As per Stars and Stripes, “Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds (or as expressed in their own words on the internet and to others). These claims can be a complete fabrication of a career or military service and or embellishment of an otherwise honorable tour, service or career. However, phenomenon is a misnomer. The issue of Stolen Valor is much more like a lightning-fast spreading pandemic negatively affecting all who have honorably served, those currently on active duty and in the reserves and the Veterans community at large. In addition, such false claims often result in wasted resources, massive fraud and abuses within the Veterans Administration and other federal, state and local agencies that provide benefits to legitimate and deserving Veterans.

Our nation’s first Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was a U.S. law that broadened the provisions of previous laws addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, or sale of any military decorations and medals. The law made it a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration or medal. If convicted, defendants might have been imprisoned for up to six months, unless the decoration lied about is the Medal of Honor, in which case imprisonment could have been up to one year. In United States v. Alvarez the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2012, that the Stolen Valor Act was an unconstitutional abridgment of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment, striking down the law in a 6 to 3 decision. Confirmed Valor Thief Xavier Alvarez of United States v. Alvarez won claiming his First Amendment right to lie about military service and claim he was a Medal of Honor recipient, he said, “I’m a retired Marine of 25 years. I retired in the year 2001. Back in 1987, I was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. I got wounded many times by the same guy.” Of course none of this was true (not a US Marine and no Medal of Honor), but Alvarez, in photo below, is a liar, a confirmed Valor Thief and he has rights.

With the disgraceful Supreme Court decision of 2012, the outrage from within the Department of Defense, military members, Veterans advocacy groups and patriotic citizens alike was immediate and resulted in the speedy passage of the much improved Stolen Valor Act of 2013. Little wiggle room is provided for Valor Thieves now … the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 amends the federal criminal code to rewrite provisions relating to fraudulent claims about military service to subject to a fine, imprisonment for not more than one year, or both for an individual who, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds himself or herself out to be a recipient of: the Medal of Honor;

Distinguished Service Cross; Navy Cross; Air Force Cross; Silver Star; Purple Heart; Combat Action Ribbon; Combat Infantryman’s Badge; Combat Action Badge; Combat Medical Badge; Combat Action Medal; or any replacement or duplicate medal for such medal as authorized by law. The Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon are highlighted above for effect. More on that later.

In addition to the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, many states have enacted their own Stolen Valor laws. In fact, due to the dedication of Stolen Valor researchers/investigators and Veterans advocacy groups, we have greatly assisted states, through hard work, lobbying and proven results, in the passage of tough laws directly aimed at Valor Thieves.

One such state is California. In 2011, Assembly Bill 167 was passed citing the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2005 and the bill has some fairly stiff penalties for public and/or elected officials who engage Stolen Valor activities. More on California Assembly Bill 167 later.

Stolen Valor researchers/investigators and Veterans advocate groups have done a fairly decent job in recent years of exposing the worst offenders. We have found that in all cases of Stolen Valor there is an element of financial fraud and in most cases Stolen Valor and financial fraud is just the tip of the iceberg. The Stolen Valor community has uncovered through meticulous research and thorough investigative processes Valor Thieves who were convicted of or under investigation for crimes such as murder, rape, domestic abuse and child pornography. We have identified and regularly cross a filthy path exposing pedophiles, felons in possession of firearms, illegal aliens, drug addicts, drunks, corrupt politicians, unethical business owners, horrible lawyers, thugs and variety of general fraudsters, criminals and low-life miscreants.

One such example is Daniel A. Bernath, in photo below, who I and others investigated for over four years. Bernath was one of the worst Valor Thieves we have ever encountered. Due to our work, Bernath was being investigated by federal, state and local authorities in several jurisdictions for distribution of child pornography and other unsolved heinous crimes. Like all Valor Thieves, Bernath was a coward, he crashed his airplane straight in to the ground on January 22, 2018 as we closed in on him. In addition to being a confirmed Valor Thief, it should be noted Bernath was a really bad lawyer and poorer pilot.

With the passage of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, we now have one specific catch-all provision that greatly assists researchers, investigators, law enforcement and other authorities with respect to application of the law: “an individual who, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds himself or herself out to be a recipient of …”

This leads us to incumbent California Assemblyman Randy Voepel (71st Assembly District, encompassing inland eastern San Diego), an insurance salesman with 40 years of experience, past mayor of Santee, CA, a former U.S. Navy enlisted man, who by all accounts (official service records) was a marginally adequate Sailor at best and served for a brief period onboard the great ship USS Buchanan (DDG-14). Voepel served less time at sea than I did cleaning steam and water drums in 1200 psi D-Type propulsion boilers and standing in the chow line waiting for my daily dose of SOS. Yet, his tales and claims are so fantastic and unbelievable they must be told.

Here are California Assemblyman Randy Voepel’s military claims. Buckle up for the ride:

Purple Heart Recipient – False claim, there is no official record and he was not mentioned as being wounded in combat by the enemy in other supporting documents (official US Navy Deck Logs) with respect to incidents of direct combat action involving USS Buchanan.

Combat Action Ribbon – False claim, there is no official record and he was not mentioned in other supporting documents (official US Navy Deck Logs) with respect to incidents of direct combat action involving USS Buchanan. Voepel has been photographed and regularly wears the Combat Action Ribbon as in photo below.

Trained by the Viet Cong – False claim, there is no record of Voepel’s training and or membership in the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF), more popularly known as the Viet Cong (VC), the military arm of the National Liberation Front (NLF). Established at the end of 1960, the VC was created by the North Vietnamese communists to escalate the armed struggle in South Vietnam. If Voepel was in fact trained by the Viet Cong, I would like to see those training records, because the Viet Cong was our enemy and that would open up a larger and more scandalous can of worms. Below is a historic photo of a VC fighter. Could this be the one who trained Voepel?

In the Jungles of Viet Nam – False claim, there is no record of assignment at or “In the Jungles of Viet Nam”, or any unit bearing that name. However, Voepel may have spent some time “on the beach” (liberty call) in Subic Bay, Philippines which was at that time, in the early 1970’s, a very different type of jungle as depicted in the photo below. Perhaps he has erroneously conflated neighboring regional jungles.

Self-Diagnosed PTSD – Based on review of official records this claim is, more likely than not, a complete fabrication and false. However, Voepel’s Veterans Administration service-connected disability rating and certification could provide insight into this claim, should such an official rating exist.

Small Craft Qualification – False claim, there is no official record of qualification and or designation. Created in the mid 1970’s after the Viet Nam War, the Small Craft Insignia is awarded to only very skilled and qualified officers and petty officers commanding small combatant vessels that patrol brown-water (littoral zone) and riverine environments. Voepel is not authorized to wear, has never been retroactively awarded the Small Craft Insignia and was never assigned to any small boat and or craft unit, although Voepel has been photographed and regularly wears the Small Craft Insignia. Voepel commanded no boat or craft, yet he sits at his desk, in photo below, wearing the Small Craft Insignia.

Wounded in Action – False claim, there is no official record of Purple Heart and or Combat Action Ribbon being awarded to Voepel.

Voepel’s Chief of Staff, Mason Herron recently stated, on March 12, 2018 at the 76th Assembly caucus meeting at the Veterans Association of North County Resource Center, Oceanside, CA, that Voepel did have a Purple Heart. Herron continued and stated, “no possible way that anyone, including Mr. Wilske, could verify whether Mr. Voepel was awarded the Purple Heart or not.” These statements made by Herron were witnessed and testimonials were documented. Mr. Wilske most certainly did, quite easily in fact, verify that Voepel was never awarded the Purple Heart. I independently verified all relevant official records and confirmed that no Purple Heart was ever awarded to Voepel. On Tuesday March 27, 2018, I gave Voepel’s office and Herron an opportunity to comment on this Stolen Valor article, no one returned my call.

Herron of Voepel’s political enterprise, in the above statement demonstrates a serious lack of understanding about the military in general, our resolve and culture, traditions and history held dearly close and basic official record archiving requirements. I have independently reviewed all of these claims, official records, witness testimonies, open source information and intelligence and it has been determined that Voepel has not been awarded the Purple Heart or the Combat Action Ribbon. Voepel’s spontaneous utterances that he was “Trained by the Viet Cong” and “In the Jungles of Viet Nam” are in equal disgusting and comedy gold. Voepel’s assertions regarding PTSD are insulting to all warriors who return home with scares of battle after answering the call to duty. Voepel is not authorized to wear the Small Craft Insignia. With respect to Voepel’s claims of being “Wounded in Action”, it never happened. He may have “gotten some action” in Southeast Asia, but those accomplishments are typically not recorded in official service records. The official service records, of Randy Greg Voepel, provided by the Naval Military Personnel Command via the National Archives, does not match his false, shameless, inexplicable and comedic claims.

As a retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, serving over 32 years from 1979 – 2011, four-time voting member of the U.S. Navy Senior and Master Chief Petty Officer Selection Board, Professional Certified Investigator (PCI), nationally recognized Stolen Valor Researcher and Investigator and proud Valor Thief Hunter, I can say with 100 % certainty Voepel’s claims outlined here are completely false. These claims hold no water with me, my fellow military comrades in arms, Stolen Valor advocates and the Veterans community at large. The long-standing and continued arrogance and aberrant comments by Voepel and Herron should be noted by all the constituents in the 71st Assembly District now and in the months before this pivotal election.

Challenging incumbent Assemblyman Randy Voepel is retired U.S. Navy Command Master Chief (SEAL) Larry Wilske. Larry is a man great integrity and solid character, he is proven Servant Leader and a model of the “Warrior Elite.” He lives and breathes in thought and action the U.S. Navy Core Values of “HONOR, COURAGE and COMMITMENT.” He does not compromise his sworn “Ethos.” There are no comparisons to be made between likes of Voepel and that of Master Chief Larry Wilske.

Voepel’s purposeful embellishment and fabrication of his military service is noteworthy … “with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds himself or herself out to be a recipient of … the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon” … a clear violation of the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 and possibly CA Assembly Bill 167.

CA Assembly Bill 167 calls for the removal of public and elected officials with respect to violations and acts of Stolen Valor. It is now up to the federal authorities with jurisdiction, state and local prosecutors in California, the media and most importantly the citizens of the 71st Assembly District to take serious note of the claims of confirmed Valor Thief Randy Voepel. If Voepel has any evidence or official records to the contrary, I would suggest he prepare to produce those for review by the authorities, media and his constituents. If not, Voepel may want to return to his previous occupation of selling nickel and dime insurance policies.

Stolen Valor is a growing and serious issue in our great nation. Stolen Valor researches/investigators and advocates are generally self-funded and conduct more Stolen Valor investigations than law enforcement, many of these self-initiated research projects and investigations are delivered to law enforcement and authorities which often results in arrests, charges filed and leading to prosecutions under Stolen Valor Act of 2013 or state Stolen Valor laws.
Note: US Navy and National Archives official records, Wikipedia quotes, credible open source/web based information and witness testimonies all were used and contributed to this article.

Category: Phony soldiers, Valor Vultures

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks Jonn!


Epic work, Master Blaster… all rounds on target!


Epic work, Master Chief.

Of course the only sound you’ll hear from Voepel is crickets.


Indeed. You would think that by now these asshole politicians would realize their rediculous claims are going to be taken up by someone and exposed.
This ass bandit needs out of office and prosecution.


Insurance salesman? That’s one step above a Realtor. Barely. 😥

A Proud Infidel®™

Barely a step above Used Car Salesman in my book.



Nothing worse than a Lot Lizard.

sgt. vaarkman 27-48th TFW

Yes their is something worse than a “Lot Lizard”! 95% of our nations lawyers, 100% of the liberal judges and almost all politicians, they all seem to go hand in hand together, like foxes in a hen house. infamous lawyers: Bernath, Hillary & William Jefferson Clinton, Obama, LBJ, Nixon, many on the SCOTUS like Ginsburg and that 98 year old knucklehead their was an article here the other day that wants to ban everything….just to too many of them to name in this tiny space


I have to say…you got me there. Good post.

A Proud Infidel®™

Hey Sparks, when I was a Trucker the term “Lot Lizard” was and is still used to refer to Truck Stop Hookers. I’ve also heard that about 98% of crusading liberal lawers give the rest a bad name!


I used to have a lizard with a cross through it on my truck door. You’d be surprised how that cut down on midnight door banging.

A Proud Infidel®™

I had a “NO LOT LIZARDS” sticker on the door of my truck and there were places where that didn’t even repel them, Carlisle PA and Buffalo NY being the worst.

The Stranger

Carlisle? That seemed like a nice enough little town.


Damn good job and write up Master Chief! Hope this son of a bitch Voepel gets shit canned.


yeah, these types need to go…


Yes, tools such as this need to go. And I can suggest a very appropriate destination.

They can pack light, too. Where I’ve got in mind they won’t ever need winter clothes.

A Proud Infidel®™

Ditto that!




Well done, Master Chief!



Old Trooper


As an aside: I still remember your final Navy picture, Master Chief, and I still pee a little from the look you’re shooting in it (glad you’re not pissed at me).


I had Top Sergeants, E-9 types also, that had “that look”. And that look was all it took to straighten my ass out.

Again, well done Master Chief and thank you for the research, work and time you had to invest in this Sir.


To call California Assemblyman Randy Voepel a liar and an organic byproduct of the digestive process would an insult to liars and outhouses everywhere.

On the other hand, he didn’t claim to be a Navy SEAL – possibly because he’s dumber than an AO.

The Stranger

Ok, what the hell! Back up the truck. What was that about Bernath?


More to come … settle down Francis!


We’ve been (not-so-patiently) waiting for your Bernath article, Master Chief!

((( OVER )))

cross defendant #11
Hyatt v. Bernath (1211-14698)


There are few things we are still waiting for …


Anything worth reading as much as what is to come about Bernath is worth the waiting Master Chief. Looking forward to the finished outcome.

Thank you and the many others who shouldered the Bernath load.


Amen… waiting for the final on Lawn Dart Danny.

Hack Stone

Daniel Bernath is like a tire dump pile, that shit will be burning forever.


Roger. Just took my “chill pill”.

(((( OVER ))))

The Stranger

I’m just taking mine, if by chill pill you mean cold Yuengling.

Hack Stone

Hack is still waiting on something to drop on one of the remaining DRG members.


Bernasty a tickle monster and kiddie pr0n purveyor? This is my not-surprised-in-the-least look.


I knew he’d made false claims of pedophilia against others, but was not aware that he may have been involved in distributing child pr0n. Projection, maybe?

Just An Old Dog

Chances are that in order to plant Child Pron on people you have to possess it.
The law pretty much don’t give a rat’s ass how it came into your possession, if you have it,,, its yours.
Given his travels to Asia I wouldn’t put it past him doing some disgusting shit.
If the dogs were closing in and he knew it that nose-dive into the swamp may have been deliberate.
By the way burn in Hell DAB

A Proud Infidel®™

“If the dogs were closing in and he knew it that nose-dive into the swamp may have been deliberate.”

I would not put that past him for even a microsecond.

The Stranger

I’m just thankful that no one else was hurt by that escapade. That fucker can roast in hell while getting sodomized with a railroad tie.


JOAD, an aside: Listening to the audio of DAB and the last transmission to ATC makes perfect sense. “No, you don’t understand”.
That much of it stood out the most and had
me thinking to myself this guy is doing himself in.


Wonder if Dan’s sidekick has slithered away now that he lost his “lawyer”?


Must have been all that backward writing on those CIC situation boards that scrambled this dumbass’ eggs.

Fuck you Randy Voepel.

PS, good job Master Chief.


Good article, Master Chief.

Now if there is any way to get my attorney’s fees out of Bernath’s cold, dead clutches, please let me know. That money was supposed to go for repairs to my car, my front steps and stuff in my house. I hope he’s enjoying his stay in the Warm Place.

Combat Historian

…”I was trained by the Viet Cong in the jungles of Vietnam!”…

Nuff said…


I’m still trying to figure out how anyone other than Jane Fonda would even consider making that claim.


Nice classroom photo of Charlie in the hole.
Small class size. Randy took up two seats but it was important that he get training so a waiver was issued.

Perry Gaskill

We might want to cut Randy of the Voepel some slack. It’s not easy driving a Navy destroyer up the Mekong River. At least fast enough so you can water ski behind it…

A Proud Infidel®™

Or did he have his own stealth jet ski for those fictional ops?


Remember….”Charlie Don’t Surf!”

Hack Stone

When Hack would head for Thailand every year for Cobra Gold, we would have to run all of the comm cable to the various buildings. Occasionally there would be a Wire Dog not giving his 100%, so Hack would utter “Did you come here to string wire or surf the Internet? Charlie doesn’t surf the Internet.”


Wrong Viet Nam!

Wilted Willy

Great job Jonn, I hope this guy is ran out of town on a rail and then tarred and feathered! I hope he spends some time in prison for all of his falsehoods. That is the least he deserves! I can only hope that someday the same thing will happen to my pos brother David “Doc” Shrum, whom has now scammed the VA out of over $500K with his phony PTSD claim. I contacted my local VSO who swore she would look into his case over 4 months ago and now she won’t even return my phone calls or emails. Why is it so difficult to get someone interested in convicting such an obvious fraud. I even sent her all my files and documentation which proves that he is a liar and a total fraud. Maybe I should just start scamming the VA like he did and start raking in the money since nobody seems to care? I am ready to give up!!!


I’d like to know how these do this and make it stick. I think I should get a portion of Bernath’s fake PTSD 100% disability money, which he got for 10 years or until he hit the bricks in the road.

Wilted Willy

I would think you would be entitled to it thru the whistle blowers act?


Hmmm… I should look into that.


That’ll leave a mark!

jedipsycho (Certified Space Shuttle Door Gunner)

Damn, Master Chief, you brought some well deserved pain to Randy Voepel the valor thief. Well done!


Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!

I call it my new “BERNATH RAGE” at work!

Hell … and I am not even done with Bernath!



Perry Gaskill

Something to consider is the ripple effect of this story making it worse than at first glance. Voepel is a Republican in the California Assembly, which is about as rare as seeing Stormy Daniels at a convention of nuns. With California’s Democrats all but out of control, and the Republicans needing all the help they can get, who shows up? Voepel.

Just An Old Dog

Voepel’s district is south of me and centered around the town of Santee.
Santee is considered a bunch of racist rednecks by the snobs in San Diego Proper.
In other words, its pretty conservative.
The Dems have ran hit pieces on Voepel for years. He has said some really stupid shit, like that Global Warming is Good because it will affect all the Muslims at he equator, and that Homeless people are like Viet Cong.
He’s been voted in simply because the Dems were worse.
Lets hope Wilske unseats him

A Proud Infidel®™

Is it just me or is Voepel grinning like a pencil-necked meat gazer in a crowded locker room?


Lets push this article strong!

I have to go get hair and nails done, I have a radio appearance tonight!


Guys go light on the language please, national media attention with respect to Voepel is being pushed in this direction … Yes directly to TAH!

Thanks DW’s!


And anyone who claims that Jonn, et al, are partisan WRT Stolen Valor?

Here’s living proof of that bullshit claim right here.

At least we don’t ignore the shit so they can serve in the US Senate.


So true.

If this was a Dem was running against a Rep Valor Thief … I would have done the same exact thing!

Let the chips fall.




Article is posted at LinkedIn:

Please share to your feeds and connections.

Have to go to Mass now, Holy Thursday!



Excellent work Master Chief. Glad to see you’re still fighting the good fight. CAPT Spivey (Ret.)



Thank you Sir.

Please push this link and story far and wide.

I have been exposing filth since retiring in DEC 2011. Dirty job but someone has to do it.

Hit me up at LinkedIn story is posted there too.



Veritas Omnia Vincit

It seems there was a lot less of this during the 70s….I don’t recall anyone making up stories to impress in those days…maybe I was more naive then…

Nice job on a giant, stinking turd.

I might disagree about SCOTUS decision being disgraceful though, I would instead blame the lawmakers on how the law was framed. Speech that is restricted simply because it’s not true rather than because it’s involving fraud is a dangerous area. Next think you know we’re the same as the fucking Brits where someone gets locked up over a facebook post. It’s the obligation of the lawmakers to frame these laws in a manner that passes the test of Constitutionality, it’s not the fault of SCOTUS just because it’s a law we happened to agree with.


It seems there was a lot less of this during the 70s….I don’t recall anyone making up stories to impress in those days…maybe I was more naive then… It wasn’t “cool” in the 1970s to be a Vietnam combat vet, VOV. So of course there were a lot fewer people lying about that in the 1970s. Regarding false statements: unless made against a public figure, knowingly false statements of fact in general don’t seem to have First Amendment protection under the US Constitution. See NYT v. Sullivan (1964) and Getz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974). In the latter, the opinion stated the rationale for this exclusion, stating that “there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact” and that such lies do not “advance society’s interest in ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open debate'”. Someone who is lying about having received a particular military decoration is thus engaging in speech that appears to have little if any expectation of Constitutional protection as free speech. Such an individual is making such a statement deliberately, knowingly, and in an attempt to deceive others. It’s no different than a used-car salesman telling a customer, “Sure, that mileage is accurate” when he in fact knows the vehicle in question’s odometer has been replaced and is reading 50,000 miles less than actual. The only difference I can see is the expected “payoff” from the lie; the one lying about the car wants to profit financially, while the other lying about their military record wants the intangible… Read more »

Veritas Omnia Vincit

I think they erred about Hobby Lobby and Citizens United as well…so there’s that…the court can seem somewhat capricious at time.

The differences between those two cases are a 9-0 versus a 5-4 decision….5-4 decisions may stand for some time, but a differently oriented court might go 5-4 the other way in the next case that pops up.

I appreciate the references, I was not aware of Gertz so it was good reading.

Mark Nevins

Great job outing him. Rather than wait for someone in government to do their own investigation, why not simply file criminal charges against him through the local States Attorney’s or District Attorney’s Office? I did thi many times while doing investigations for large companies where criminal activities were uncovered. In many instances I met with the SA’s own investigators in advance of filing charges to get their take on elements of proof or other considerations prior to filing.


Dear TAH DW’s in CA,

Contact your District Assemblyman and ask for investigation and impeachment proceedings of Valor Thief Randy Voepel as per CA Assembly Bill 167 (CA Stolen Valor Act).

CA AB 167 was written because of Valor Thieves like Alverez (from US v. Alverez) and Voepel. Yes, CA AB 167 was wriiten because of the likes of these two!
The bill calls for removal of elected and public officials who engage in Stolen Valor activities.

Thanks DW’s!



Drop him a message too:


Today 4 – 6 PM approx. 10 NEWS San Diego.

Green Thumb

Extra Loser.


Bravo! Very well done, MCPO! *Thunderous applause*! He sure is an “impressive SOB”….from 2016.


We are combing over Viepel’s altered DD-214N. It is a most pathetic attempt.