In a recent newspaper article, he is pictured wearing a most interesting group of medals including the Sacrifice Medal, the General Campaign Star (South West Asia), the Persian Gulf & Kuwait Medal, the Special Service Medal & the Canadian Forces Decoration.
(1)The Sacrifice Medal, awarded to CF personnel Wounded in Action or posthumously for those Killed in Action. This medal was created in 2008 andis retroactive to 2001. Mr French says he served in the CF until 1999 therefore, he cannot be a legitimate recipient of that medal.
(2) The Persian Gulf and Kuwait Medal awarded for service during Gulf War 1 (1990-91). The 3rd Battalion RCR, then based in Germany, was deployed to Bahrain / Qatar as a defence / security force for the headquarters and the airfield. However, French is a complete unknown to that group of Royals. He is also unknown to the members of the 1sr Battalion RCR tasked with the defense and security of 1 Canadian Field Hospital.
(3)The General Campaign Star (South West Asia) was created in 2004 and first awarded later that year, it is not a retroactive award, and again French claims his military service had concluded prior to this mission.
(4)The Special Service Medal (SSM) recognizes a multitude of missions and is ALWAYS awarded with a clasp detailing the operation – PEACE/PAIX, ALERT and NATO are the most common. Of note, there is no clasp on the SSM he’s wearing.
(5) Lastly, the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) is a long service and good conduct medal, it requires 12 years of honourable service. By his own admission, he has only 10 years of military service.
Typically, posers, fakes and embellishers are exposed due to their difficulty understanding recorded history and simple arithmetic.
French is just the latest in a long line of individuals who have used a bogus military narrative in an attempt to gain something without any lawful entitlement
We remember the blood, sweat and tears that it took to earn a piece of metal attached to coloured ribbon, a strip of cloth or an embroidered badge, and that is why we get somewhat emotional about them.Stolen Valour Canada does not take our mission lightly. We are absolutely dedicated to finding posers where ever they may be and making sure that they are stopped from sullying the memory of Canada’s service men and women. For an individual to wear the Sacrifice Medal, without the making the requisite sacrifice is an absolute insult to our wounded and fallen.
These reprehensible acts should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
This image, from Springhill, Nova Scotia, doesn’t meet our criteria for stolen valour. Mounting an “army cadet long service medal” alongside medals awarded by the Crown is a protocol issue although, the dog tags are a nice touch… Please stop sending us this pic! https://www.gg.ca/sites/default/files/wearingguide.pdf
“Staff Sergeant” Michael KERR aka Michael Bryan KERR Calgary, Alberta Mr Kerr claims to be a steely eyed, snake eatin’ killer killer from the skies who served in 10 Special Forces Group. He’s awarded himself the Combat Infantry, Combat Medic and Combat Action Badges along with the Silver Star Medal and the Soldier’s Medal. He’ll flash ya a SF challenge coin as “proof” of his service if questioned on his claims… Dude, just stop! November 2018
Mr Marty Gow of Toronto Ontario Tells amazing tales of his service with the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland and Down South in the Falklands. According to our Brit partners at Stolen Valour UK, none of them are true… On his now scrubbed FB page, there were several images that Marty claimed to be featured in, we now know that they are random pics from the interwebs including a screen grab from the movie “Bloody Sunday”. There’s no evidence of the South Atlantic Medal but, there’s a truck load of bling mixed in with what appears to be the General Service Medal and a Long Service & Good Conduct medal. Of course, the “Queen‘s Sapphire Jubilee Medal” is always an interesting addition to one’s medallic fuckery. May 2019.
Reverend Ron Watson, Vernon BC. He lost that lovin’ feelin’ in a peeler bar… The “holy man” surrendered his fake uniform items and a Navy League ID card to the local police. July 2017
HERE IS WHAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THE COVETED (US) ARMY TABS
From “Mountain” to “Jungle,” the US Army has a lot of tabs- twelve official ones to be exact, with countless unofficial ones.
While the authorized wear of said tabs vary from unit to unit, the sheer number of them -usually used to signify the completion of specialized courses or unit affiliation- pays compliment to the Army’s unique and varied capabilities.
Some tabs -such as Special Forces, Ranger, the President’s Hundred and Sapper- signify the completion of specialized schooling and course completion in order to wear the tab, be it to enter the ranks of elite units or to prove that an individual has what it takes to go above and beyond.
Number one in tab precedence, the Special Forces tab was established in 1983, long after the actual Special Forces existed. In order to earn it, one has to complete the Special Forces Qualification Course or the Special Forces Officer Course at Fort Bragg North Carolina. For those who have the tab, wearing it is not always necessary as the beard and relaxed uniform standards make it clear they have one.
The Ranger tab doesn’t mean you’re part of a Ranger battalion (those are scrolls), but signifies a completion of the brutal 61-day Ranger School course. The tab itself can be retroactively awarded to World War II Rangers, members of “Merrill’s Marauders” or Korean War veterans of the Eighth Army Ranger Company, so long as they have a Combat Infantry Badge. Ranger tabs have been a thing for over sixty-six years.
Similar (but not really) to a Ranger tab is the Sapper Tab, which was authorized in 2004 for soldiers who complete the Sapper Leader Course at the US Army Engineer School. The Sapper course is 28-days long and involves a lot of challenging combat engineering skills. For a long time, the Sapper tab was the only way for women to be able to get “tabbed,” since Ranger and Special Forces schools were off-limits.
Similar in the vein of the aforementioned tabs, the President’s Hundred Tab is awarded to the 100 top-qualifying Army shooters who attend the annual President’s Match at Camp Perry, Ohio. A similar tab known as the “Governor’s Twenty/Twelve/Ten” tab, is awarded to National Guard troops of varying states who excel above their peers in marksmanship. These tabs are actually quite difficult to get, and only so many are given per year.
The Special Forces, Ranger, Sapper and President’s Hundred are “forever tabs,” authorized for permanent wear, no matter what unit you end up in later in your career.
Not so much earned as they are part of the uniform, Airborne, Mountain, Combined Division and Honor Guard tabs are given to individuals assigned to respective Airborne Units (such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)), the 10th Mountain Division, The Second Infantry Division’s Combined HQ in Korea and the 3rd US Infantry Regiment,known as “The Old Guard.” While these tabs are more a unit signifier than anything else, one generally has to meet qualifications to enter such a unit (be it Airborne qualification or stringent uniformity requirements) and thus the tabs are a great source of pride for those who wear them.
For a very brief time, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) had a quasi-official unit “Air Assault” tab, as well as a dark blue beret. This only lasted about a year or two before it was discontinued. That said, units in the late 60s to 70s more or less did whatever they wanted.
Unit-specific but lesser known than the others, the Arctic badge and Jungle Expert tab are awarded to members of specific climate-specialized units for completing gruelling arctic and jungle leadership courses, respectively.
The Arctic tab is given to members of the US Army who complete the Cold Weather Orientation Course or Cold Weather Leadership Course in Alaska. Members under the command of US Army Alaska can wear the patch on combat uniforms while in the borders of Alaska.
The Jungle Expert/Jungle tab was formerly assigned to individuals who graduated from the Jungle Operations Training Center in Panama until the school was shut down in 1999, when the US handed the Panama Canal and all associated areas back to Panama.
Currently, the Jungle tab is assigned to members of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division and others in the Pacific Area of Responsibility who complete a Jungle leadership course.
As much as we would like the “SNIPER” Tab to be an authorized tab (some units authorize to be sewn inside of Sniper’s boonie caps) for completing specific marksmanship courses, it (sadly) just isn’t the case. Originally meant for troops who graduated from the US Army Sniper school, the unofficial patch was later watered down during the Global War on Terror to signify graduates of Sniper School, the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC) and various advanced long-range marksman courses (due to the difficulty in getting soldiers sent to the actual US Army Sniper School amid countless back-to-back deployments and unit budget woes. Some units might even allow them for members of Sniper Platoons who haven’t gone to a marksman school at all, though this is generally a taboo practice.
Similar unofficial tabs include “FISTER” (for artillery spotters), “SCOUT” and “RECON” (for Infantry and Cavalry scouts, respectively).
Older tabs no longer in existence include the “Recondo” tabs for graduates of Recondo training and the “Pershing” tab, which was assigned to operators of the now-defunct Pershing missile system, which was phased out in 1991.
RECONDO or “RECONnaissance and commanDO” was a pretty cool school to go to/tab to get. These were generally reserved for graduates of Recondo school, which taught small but fierce and heavily-armed reconnaissance teams how to patrol -and survive- deep behind enemy lines. Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols/ Long Range Surveillance Detachments (LRRP/LRS-D) units frequently went to Recondo schools, often set up at their home installations. Unfortunately, the US Army -in its infinite wisdom- shut Recondo down, later eliminating LRRP and LRS altogether in favor of flying a million-dollar RC plane (flown by a paunchy and dissatisfied airman) over enemy territory. Way to go, Army.
Countless (very) unofficial “morale tabs” exist, often hidden under a pocket sleeve but readily available for display to those who belong to a tight-knit unit. Platoon nicknames or fire team monikers regularly made up the bulk of orders for custom tabs, particularly in the Iraq and Afghan wars. These were never authorized for use, but likely saw the light of day “in country” more than one could imagine.
No matter what tab you wear, the addition of a rocker over one’s insignia is a source of pride to be treasured.
Source: Popularmilitary.com EDITORIAL STAFF January 6, 2018
US Army Tabs-authorized for wear by qualified Canadian Forces personnel
Ernest Hemingway’s Fiery Rant Against Stolen Valor Is Still Relevant Almost A Century Later
By DANNY LEFFLER on August 9, 2017
Long before Ernest Hemingway wrote, drank and fought his way into the ranks of America’s legendary wordsmiths, the beloved author cut his literary teeth on the beat of a Canadian newspaper. Fresh off a stint driving an ambulance for the Red Cross on the Italian front during World War I, the young Hemingway landed at The Toronto Star Weekly in early 1920, where he covered everything from mobsters to the complete uselessness of wedding gifts — including the rise of stolen valor and the lousy market for war medals that accompanied the end of the Great War.
One of Hemingway’s funniest pieces was “Popular in Peace, Slacker in War,” a sarcastic, mocking lecture for the Canadian citizens who deployed not to the bloody trenches of war-torn Europe with the Canadian armed forces, but to relatively safe jobs in American munitions factories. Sensing these “morally courageous souls” might be a bit ashamed that they were not among their nearly 425,000 fellow countrymen who faced death overseas, the young Hemingway dispensed some sage words to help them pass themselves off as battle-hardened patriots.
Even in the 1920s, donning the proper attire was a crucial part of impersonating a real military man. For this, Hemingway suggests hitting the thrift store for a trench coat and maybe a pair of army boots, which will “convince everyone you meet on the streetcar that you have seen service,” allowing you to “have all the benefits of going to war and none of its drawbacks.”
The phony vet may also face inquiries about why he doesn’t sport the overseas badge of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, to which he should shoot back “I do not care to advertise my military service!” This retort, Hemingway says, will cause the real combat vet “brazenly wearing his button” to feel like a total blowhard.
Papa’s words of wisdom extend into the realm of seduction, too, one of the chief goals of any dirtbag who unjustly dons military dress. If a “sweet young thing at a dance” asks you if you ever met this or that major, he writes, “merely say ‘No,’ in a distant tone. That will put her in her place…” Looking wistfully into a glass of booze works well, too: As Hemingway himself knew, ladies love the strong, silent type.
The key to maintaining the ruse, of course, is research. Hemingway advises the pretend soldier to learn some classic French songs and to get his hands on a solid literary war history, which will empower him to “prove the average returned veteran a pinnacle of inaccuracy,” since “the average soldier has a very abominable memory for names and dates.” “With a little conscientious study,” he writes, “you should be able to prove to the man who was at first and second Ypres that he was not there at all.”
Acting the part is important, too. “Be modest and unassuming,” Hemingway goes on, “and you will have no trouble. If anyone at the office addresses you as ‘major,’ wave your hand, smile deprecatingly and say, ‘No; not quite major.’ After that,” he writes, “you will be known to the office as captain.”
Those unfamiliar with Hemingway’s sardonic, tongue-in-cheek style may take his guide literally, an actual roadmap to usurping the honor that comes with military service. But Papa makes his feelings about stolen valor very clear in the closing section of his piece.
“Now you have service at the front, proven patriotism and a commission firmly established, there is only one thing left to do,” writes Hemingway.
“Go to your room alone some night. Take your bankbook out of your desk and read it through. Put it back in your desk. Stand in front of your mirror and look yourself in the eye and remember that there are fifty-six thousand Canadians dead in France and Flanders. Then turn out the light and go to bed
Late in 2020, SVC showcased Medical Service Medal of Bravery (MB) recipients – MS Penny, Cpl Charette, Sgt Janes, and MWO Kock.
It’sreallyquite simple to confirm the recipients of the Medalof Bravery,they are all listed in the Canada Gazette and onthe GG’s website along with their citations. https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients
Theexception,3xCAF MBrecipientsarenotpubliclynamed forsecurityreasons and the time period of those awards is long after CF operations in the Balkans ended!
Today, we’ll add two more, Mcpl Griffin (1977) and MCpl Vaillancourt (2013).
The Royal Canadian Medical Service is a small organization and all their recipients of the MB are known. There are no “off the books” awards nor have any Medical Service recipients had their identity protected for security reasons.
Anyone claiming to be a Medical Service Medal of Bravery recipient insults the exceptional actions taken by “common men in uncommon times.”
Of course, we asked the question…
The response didn’t include details of the citations but, it did state that the Vice Chief of Defence Staff did the honours…
Interestingly, WO Johnson’s citation is available on-line but, buddy’s isn’t.
So, either this is an uncorrected administrative error dating back decades that needs to be rectified or it’s time for this individual to stop making this claim.
I have been travelling to Ottawa on a regular basis since 2011, when the Canadian Veterans Advocacy was first invited to participate with Veterans Affairs Canada stakeholder group. I was soon appalled to note that reprehensible crimes of stolen valour were being perpetrated even as we assembled on the National War Memorial at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.
At the poser level, -a poser being an individual who has never served yet poses as a soldier-, one incident was particularly remarkable. Readers will remember the case of an individual being interviewed prior to the National Remembrance Service wearing a CAF dress uniform and posing as a sergeant of The Royal Canadian Regiment. The individual brazenly added the Medal of Bravery to his other illegitimate medals, jump wings and pathfinders badge to complete his bogus ensemble. His false but impressive symbols of martial merit drew the attention of the national media. The consequences were immediate, starkly profound and by mid-afternoon, sharp eyed Royal Canadians had “outed” the individual as a fraud. As a result, I was invited to the CBC studio in Ottawa to do an interview on the subject of Stolen Valour for The National. Criminal charges were levied, and justice in this case was served.
There have also been instances of deplorable embellishment, wherein yes, the individual did serve yet felt compelled to dishonestly embellish their service by adding medals, parachute wings and other unearned honorifics to their uniforms. A prominent charity and several veterans organizations were adversely impacted by such acts of fraud, with reputations being besmirched (guilt by association) and relationships being irrevocably destroyed.
Stolen Valour Canada (SVC) emerged in 2014 as an independent, self funded, group of veterans willing to volunteer their time and military experience to provide an internet-based platform which investigates reports of alleged Stolen Valour across Canada. During the past 7 years, these veteran volunteers have exposed over three score of posers and embellishers who were exploiting national service & sacrifice in order to deceive Canadians across the nation. The accused have invariably been provided with options. An apology letter and the return of the medals is all that is required and many who have been exposed have availed themselves of this option, measly surrendering their fraudulent “trinkets” along with a public apology in order to escape those punitive provisions set out under the Criminal Code of Canada (section 419). For years now, SVC has provided expert advice to affected law enforcement agencies with one precedent setting conviction in 2019 resulting in a steep monetary fine and probation. A number of other cases currently remain in the cue, with criminal proceedings proceeding.
So why do these individuals do it? Why do they pose as a soldier or, in my opinion even worse worse, a soldier who embellishes their military service by adding undeserved medals, parachute wings, commendations and other trinkets?
The SVC response line to this question is blunt: Most individuals reported to SVC were declared to be “grifters and con artists who lie, cheat and steal for their personal gain.” Some posers have used “their Special Status to attend military ceremonies, Remembrance Day services, parades or charity sponsored galas and high profile sporting events as VIP guests.” Others have participated in fully funded commemorative pilgrimages and expeditions abroad. Some have used “fake military narratives and tales of battlefield injuries to advance their employment opportunities and political aspirations.”
The list of motives to impersonate a soldier includes; Intimidation, theft, fraud ( which includes examples of nefariously applying for veteran/military discounts), questionable charity schemes, embezzlement and dating schemes. In one bizarre incident, the miscreant poser went so far as to claim that he had committed war crimes as a Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer, while at a presentation to six* schoolchildren! *actually 600 schoolchildren (SVC)
Every time this occurs, of course, truly deserving veterans are increasingly doubted and our reputation as a unique community is blighted.
So, how does SVC oversight work?
First, most of the ‘poser’ reports of Stolen Valour SCV receives are levied by veterans. When instances of embellishment arise, the suspect is often identified by veterans who served in the individual’s same regiments or units. Specific details are required, and if the allegations have merit, SVC conducts an investigation based “on open sources, public information, unit war diaries and timelines”. Please note that SVC has a rigorous set of Standard Operating Procedures. Research information is peer reviewed, and should the “smoking gun” or an admission of guilt be absent, the names of the suspected posers/embellishers are not published. It is also noteworthy that SVC does not have access to MPRR and depends on protocols inherent with the Access to Information Act to confirm or deny service and medal-commendation-parachute wing aberrations.
Should you feel that there is a poser or embellisher preying on your community, reach out to SVC through this link.
In early 2019, SVC asked a number of questions regarding Mr Dwayne Curtis EISEN and his claimed military service.
It was quickly reported back to us that Eisen claims were a complete fabrication! We also received assurances that Dwayne EISEN would be encouraged to leave his make believe uniform in his tickle trunk and stop passing himself off as a combat engineer who was Wounded In Action (WIA) while serving with 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Task Force 1-08 in Afghanistan
Well, imagine our surprise when he resurfaced during Remembrance Day 2019 in Okanagan Falls and, once again, he stood in the blood of our wounded and fallen!
Eisen has a well documented history of attending events of remembrance in a military themed costume dating back at least 3 years.
In early 2019, we received numerous complaints about an individual named Dwayne EISEN, who claimed to be a combat engineer who was Wounded In Action in Afghanistan. Eisen had been an active participant numerous branch events and routinely wore a dishevelled uniform as a member of the colour party of Legion Branch 227 in Okanagan Falls, BC.
As per our SOP, we attempted to contact Eisen and provide him with every opportunity to sort out the situation however, we were blocked across the board.
It was reported back to us that Mr Eisen has his military claims were nothing but a complete fabrication and, “ heknows what he is doing it’s not right and is trying and that he doesn’t accept criticism well”.And, he “really wants to help out and is having an extremely hard time recently.
Through an intermediary, we then contacted a key leader of the Legion’s “provincial command” and were told that the local leadership had given him assurances that Eisen would no longer be involved in ceremonial activities and that he would be encouraged to stop wearing his ridiculous uniform.
Taking into consideration Eisen’s personal circumstances, at that time, and the assurances that we wouldn’t wear the uniform again @ events of remembrance, SVC made the decision at that time not to identify him or his location on our media platforms.
We were shocked when this imposter resurfaced on Remembrance Day 2019 wearing the same uniform, medal and insignia that caused us to investigate his claimed service in the first place. When we attempted to clarify the situation with the OK Falls legion, we were told that Eisen was no longer a member of the RCL.
Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by a former RCL Zone Commander who seemed amiable to assist in sorting this situation out, and when we pushed for a timely, appropriate, local area solution that would not involve us initiating a formal complaint with the authorities.
He immediately changed his tack and said that “command” had ordered him not to communicate with us! We found that a most interesting response, as we had just been told that Eisen wasn’t a member but, the former zone guy that says that he is…
Bottom line, Eisen has no verifiable military service and he did not serve in Afghanistan as a Combat Engineer. His claim of being WIA in a mine strike is a complete fabrication that does not sit well with us who have had friends wounded and killed in action. Of course, the unchecked wear of a “uniform” is disrespectful to all of us who serve and that have served.
So, where are we now?
SVC’s objective in this matter is to separate Eisen from the uniform, the bogus Special Service Medal and insignia. That action alone will remove any temptation from him to play dress up and claim to have be a combat wounded veteran.
Mr Eisen, it’s long past time to surrender your clown suit!
Update 23-24 January
Eisen’s tales of combat service in Afghanistan in 2008 and being wounded in action has received considerable attention from the press
As a result of the pressure exerted by those who were offended by the display of the Eisen’s photograph among legitimate veterans, it has now been removed from the RCL’s Wall of Honour.
It’s long past time for Dwayne Curtis Eisen of Okanagan Falls, BC to stop insulting the service and sacrifice of our wounded and fallen.
SVC expects him to surrender the dishevelled, military themed, clown suit for appropriate disposal action and publicly apologize for his reprehensible actions.
And, stop using a cropped photographic image from 1 July 2008 @ Kandahar Air Field as “proof” of your service in Afghanistan. Some of us were there for the event you claim to have attended, we know the individuals involved, and no matter what you told your significant other, friends and enablers, it ain’t you in the picture dude!
Veterans take mental health issues seriously and many fight the stigma of PTSD on a daily basis yet, Eisen, who has no verifiable military service, perpetuates lies and mistruths that lead to the view that all returning service members are damaged goods…
Mr Jeppe had been on our radar for quite some time after he claimed to have been a highly decorated reconnaissance commando – a member of ”the RECCES”. However, it took the assistance of a former South African Army Paratrooper and a SF Operator to join the dots for us and put SVC in contact with the SASF Association. The association have published a letter refuting his commando claims and posted him up on their website Wall of Shame – March 2020.
Did this fella actually make the trek to the summit of Kilimanjaro or, did he just make it as far as the park entrance for a photo op?
This fake has more nerve than a toothache, pretending to be a South African recce commando. Obviously, he figured that no one in Calgary would question his claims of military service on the other side of the world…
Here’s a news flash Jeppe, there’s an international movement to stop individuals like you from standing in blood of the wounded and fallen.
It’s long past time for you to surrender the bogus uniform, medals and insignia and apologize for you actions.
We are often asked how do posers, fakes and embellishers gain from their medallic fuckery™?
Over the course of the past few years, it’s become apparent that the vast majority of individuals reported to us are nothing more than grifter & con artists who lie, cheat or steal for their own personal gain!
They have used their “special status” to attend military ceremonies and parades, military themed galas and high profile sporting events as VIP guests. Some have participated in fully funded overseas pilgrimages & adventurous expeditions, more have “advocated” on veterans issues without the requisite knowledge, experience or service!
Fakes and embellishers have even acquired “trauma support” dogs and mobility equipment that should have gone to legitimate veterans.Many have used their fake military narratives and tales of battlefield injuries to advance their employment opportunities & political aspirations.
Others are involved in intimidation, theft, fraud including accessing veteran/military discounts, questionable charity schemes, embezzlement and dating scams.
We are well aware of individuals using their fabricated experiences and bogus medals to justify and/or elicit sympathy for their bad behaviour, this is particularly evident with those who claim to have been Prisoners of War.
One absolute fake, claiming to be a combat wounded, Vietnam Vet had his “service” honoured by a professionally painted portrait by a volunteer artist!
We have found that Mental Health issues are not usually a factor in the cases reported to us. However, we have piquetted and bypassed a small number of individuals who clearly don’t have the intellectual/mental capacity to understand the nature of their actions.
In fact, we have channeled a number of individuals to mental health agencies as our interactions with them caused us some concerns.
Remember folks, they are grifters and con artists…
Cool story Bro however, there a few red flags with his claims…
Sole survivor? 50K bounty on his head? They are combat indicators of massive liar!
Claims he arrived in Saigon (actually Ho Chi Minh City ) September 1976! Was he a member of the Vietnamese Peoples Army?
The Barrett 50 Cal Sniper Rifle went into US Army operational service in 1990 during Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm yet, he was making record distance kill shots in 1976!
According to Jack, a sniper is basically classified as a murderer, a killer.
“Nobody likes him. Nobody. Not even your commanding officer likes you, they don’t because you are above them. They’re scared of you.”
The truth is out there…
The online story has been deleted however, the text version in available…
Sniper finds love in war of seclusion
Posted by Lyonel Doherty | Nov 11, 2020 | Community, Featured |
Vietnam veteran Jack Proulx grew up with a huge chip on his shoulder, getting into trouble with the law until a judge gave him an ultimatum: jail or the army? That changed his life forever, looking down the sights of a 50-calibre sniper rifle. (Photo by Lyonel Doherty)
Though he was one of the best, nobody wanted anything to do with Jack Proulx.
Maybe it was because his only friend was a sniper rifle that could erase you from a mile away.
Maybe it was because he never missed.
Whatever the reason, he didn’t really care. He had a job and he followed orders; that was all that mattered.
Until he met Wilhelmina, his resolute protector. But we’ll get to her later because Jack had a war to fight.
His life began in 1954 in Penticton, courtesy of Paul and Alice Proulx. Sadly, they divorced when Jack was only six years old.
At age 12 he was old enough to tell a judge which parent he wanted to live with; he chose his father in Penticton as opposed to his mother who moved back to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Five years later he found himself in trouble with the law in the deep south.
“I had a chip on my shoulder; I would fight at the drop of a hat,” Jack said, recalling his less than desirable upbringing.
In front of one judge in Louisiana, he was charged with assault after seriously hurting someone in a fight.
The magistrate acknowledged that he wasn’t a bad person who simply needed some direction, and since he liked fighting so much, she gave him a choice – jail for a year or he could sign up for the army for a two-year hitch.
“I don’t like crowbar hotels (jails), been in a few prior to that.”
Okay, where do I sign? he asked.
“I had nothing going for me. I was, like she said, a lost soul who needed direction.”
At 17, he went down the hall, signed the papers and that was it. You had to be 18 to join the military back then, but the army made an exception because the judge requested it.
Jack treated the order as punishment and found his first three months in the army very difficult. He often questioned the officers and the orders they gave him, which was taboo in the army.
One day his drill sergeant told Jack he was a good soldier but had to lose the attitude.
“All we’ve done is try to make a better man of you, so you need to get that chip off your shoulder and forget about your past and start living for the future.”
Days later jack received an invite to the sergeant’s house for dinner. Oh, no, here’s another lecture, he thought. But after three days of being treated like family, something happened.
“When I left that house and went back to my barracks, back to duty, my life just changed, Jack said, choking up. “I understood what they were trying to tell me.”
Jack Proulx’s platoon in 1976
After graduating from advanced infantry training in Missouri, Jack was shown a film about the Special Forces division, which trained top notch soldiers. He wanted to be one of them, so he signed up.
Among many skills, he learned how to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
In the end, he was one of two recruits who graduated from the program; the other three dropped out.
After 30 days leave, he shipped out for his first tour in Vietnam in 1971. From 1972 to 1975 he was training people around the world, training them how to shoot since he was an elite sniper.
Jack got out of the service in 1975 and became a civilian for six months, but he couldn’t handle it because he needed a regimented lifestyle. So, he re-enlisted and returned to Vietnam, landing in Saigon in September of 1976.
“I remember that I got off the plane and the chaplain was there,” he said, recalling the Special Forces rituals where soldiers talk to priests before their assignments.
“It’s hard because this is part of who you are; you train, you live, you breathe, you eat this (profession).”
Jack never talked about his assignments after he left the army. It was too private, too difficult.
“When I got out of the army, I was married, um, I uh, was gonna lose my wife because of my . . . life. I was shocked, I was wounded, I figured the world owed me.”
If someone made a loud noise around him, he would crawl underneath a table. If there was thunder outside . . . “I don’t know how many times my wife dug me out of the closet.”
Jack came home after his second tour and had the scars to prove it – a gunshot and stab wound, which he sewed up himself.
As a sniper, he and his spotter lived a life of seclusion without a medic.
“There’s no chow line, there’s nothing. You eat your rations and that’s it.”
He noted that being a sniper is a very lonely existence because no one wants anything to do with you. According to Jack, a sniper is basically classified as a murderer, a killer.
“Nobody likes him. Nobody. Not even your commanding officer likes you, they don’t because you are above them. They’re scared of you.”
Jack said his finger is only now starting to get its print back.
“I used to sit for hours with a fingernail file and file that finger because of the fact that when you pull the trigger, you want every sensation on that trigger.”
Jack admitted it was not a good feeling being a killer.
“Hell, (even) my spotter didn’t want anything to do with me.”
But when you are given orders, you must carry them out, and you just “pray to God” that they are right.
Jack always prided himself on knowing exactly that he was doing the right thing.
“They had to prove to me that this needed to be done before I pulled the trigger.”
When he finally came home from duty, Jack stayed isolated from everyone, even his own family.
One day when his mother woke him up for his medication, he instinctively lashed out and broke her jaw, which took 86 wires to mend. He felt so low after that he “needed a stepladder to kiss a rattlesnake’s butt.”
That’s when he decided to get help by signing himself into a psychiatric hospital in Calgary. He remained there for six months.
Jack Proulx stands in front of the guard tank where he was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He was on a three-day leave when Priebbe (his spotter) took a photo of him.
Back to the jungle
Jack was always camouflaged with his surrounding area during assignments. He carried a 50-calibre Barrett rifle which he treated like solid gold. His farthest (and last) shot was a distance of 1,785 yards, taking many factors into account, such as windage, elevation and light.
He had a starlight/starbright scope for day and night missions, which were dictated by his superiors.
Jack said the intelligence gathering was good in those days.
“I always double checked to make sure it was. I never, ever pulled the trigger on an innocent. I didn’t and I will not, and they knew that.”
Jack and his spotter had to walk to wherever they had to set up, and just waited until the opportunity arose.
“I’ve sat and waited for five days. You take shifts sleeping, you take shifts eating, you take shifts going to the latrine.”
His targets were all high-profile people, such as generals and commanders.
“They were shots that were necessary. They were shots that were . . . these people were instigating more and more fighting and we had to shut them down.”
His superiors knew that if they took these targets out, it would disrupt the enemy and give U.S. ground forces more leverage.
“I’m not a hero; I was just a soldier, just one little piece of the big picture,” said Jack, who doesn’t want the hero badge and never asked for it.
But many times he found himself behind enemy lines, and if he would have got caught . . . he doesn’t even want to think about it.
“They had a price on my head when I left there, for the Vietnamese who would kill me. It was $50,000 U.S. for somebody that could take me out.”
Jack knew there were enemy snipers after him, in fact, there were many times he had to firefight his way out.
He said the unfortunate fact about Barrett is its muzzle flash, which can give away your position.
“Once that muzzle flash went off, you better hope to hell you had a good escape route because they were coming after you. They knew where you were.”
Jack said he never missed a shot in his life.
He recalled one assignment with his spotter (nicknamed Priebbe), who was a “short, sawed-off little runt.” But, boy, was he good, Jack said.
They got sent into a place to take care of a problem, a warmongering general.
Jack and Priebbe did their usual reconnaissance and waited for four days. Finally, the target showed up and Jack made the shot.
“Just as the shot sounded, all hell broke loose. I don’t know how they found out where we were that fast.”
Normally, the target is laying on the ground before you hear the shot, Jack explained. But this time they came under fire immediately. So they ran like hell to their landing zone for extraction. But on the way they encountered three Viet Cong, which forced them into hand-to-hand combat.
Jack took a bayonet in the arm, and Priebbe got one in the leg,” Jack recalled. But they managed to take care of business and make it to the extraction point.
In the chopper, Jack proceeded to sew up his own arm, while Priebbe took the sewing needle to his leg.
Jack’s last shot (a general) in Saigon was just as memorable. At the time, all of the American forces were trying to pull out of Vietnam.
He said nobody could ever get a clear shot at this general, however, their intelligence told them he would be at a certain spot at a certain time.
The shot was more than a mile (1,785 yards), but Jack figured if this was going to put a stop to the “bullshit,” he was going to do it.
It was the only time he missed the exact mark he was aiming for (off by one inch).
“He still dropped. He wasn’t going to walk again, he wasn’t going to live again.”
After the shot, they headed to the landing zone, with Priebbe leading the way with the M16 (to deal with any resistance).
“We didn’t think anybody was behind us, honestly.”
Jack was shot and he went down, and he heard the helicopter pilot tell Priebbe to leave him because he was dead. But Priebbe said he wasn’t leaving anybody behind, especially Jack.
“So, you hold that f–king bird and you keep it on the ground or I’ll shoot you out of the air,” Priebbe told the pilot. He then threw Jack over his shoulder and piled him into the chopper, where a machine gunner was laying ground fire with an M60.
Jack remembered waking up in Frankfurt, Germany where doctors tended to his wound, a bullet in the buttocks. And he still has the bullet in there because it’s lodged in the lower part of his spine.
“If they take it out they (doctors) can’t guarantee I’ll ever walk again.”
Jack was sent home to the loving arms of his wife in Louisiana in 1977.
Veteran soldier Jack Proulx reads an emotional love letter from his wife, who promised her faithfulness and devotion during the Vietnam war.
(Photo by Lyonel Doherty)
He reminisced about the time he met Wilhelmina, a Dutch girl. He was on leave and decided to explore Holland. Well, he and his comrades got “tanked up” and they wanted to visit the red light district, but Jack decided to check out a local tavern.
He couldn’t remember where his hotel was, so the barmaid (Wilhelmina) invited him to her home to stay overnight. But he explained he wasn’t that type of guy, to which she replied she lived with her parents.
He slept on the couch and awoke the next morning to an older lady standing over him talking in Dutch.
“My mom wants to know what you want for breakfast,” Wilhelmina said as she came down the stairs.
That night he went back to the tavern to see her and they just “hit it off.”
“Finally, (after two and a half weeks) I said to her, ‘let’s get married.’”
She said, “Ya.”
“We just knew, we knew. I could start a sentence and she’d finish it. She could start a sentence and I’d finish it. We just knew that we were meant to be.”
Rummaging through his war memorabilia, Jack came across a letter she wrote to him 45 years ago:
“Sweetheart, I love you very much. I can hardly wait for you to come home. You’re the most important person in my life. No one or anything else is more important than you are. Before I met you, I thought all men were the same, but you proved me wrong. You gave me everything I ever wanted in life. You don’t have to worry about me being unfaithful to you because I will never screw around on you. I’ve got what I want in life and that’s all I need.”
Jack paused a moment before saying that Wilhelmina now has dementia and is in a care home in Penticton. Sometimes she forgets who he is but he still calls her his “rock.”
“She has always been right beside me. Always. When I came home (from Vietnam), I don’t know what I would have done without her,” he said in tears. “She saved me. She was my rock. Five foot nothing, a hundred and five pounds and she was my rock.”
That love letter was in a hope chest that survived a fire that destroyed their home in Louisiana.
“When the house caught on fire, I literally threw her out of the bedroom window. Went running back in, got my two kids and threw them out the same window, and the last thing she said to me was, ‘Grab the hope chest.’”
They sat there and watched their house burn to the ground. What they had left was in that hope chest.
Jack said he is the only one left in his original platoon, noting everyone else either committed suicide or died in accidents or drug overdoses.
“When we came home from Vietnam we were not liked, even by our own people. We were called baby killers, we were . . . (shunned).”
Jack had to pick up odd jobs to support his family. He was never one to freeload and never relied on employment insurance.
He visits Wilhelmina, 72, whenever he can, despite her memory getting worse. “She hardly remembers me,” he said.
Last week she was having a good day and told Jack to find another woman because “you can’t live alone.”
“I told her, no, nobody can ever even come close to you.” The standard (set) is too high.”