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
We have now ID’d the individual who claimed to be a CSM in the Royal Canadian Regiment and a former member of the Canadian Airborne Regiment.It now appears that Mr MacKenzie has a long history of impersonating an infantryman that dates back several decades and in fact, continues to so based on images pulled from multiple social media platforms.
There is likely much more to his story as stolen valour is often just the tip of the iceberg…
We were sent links to a story in which David Eugene Christie detailed his exploits in South East Asia / Vietnam. The conflict between the stories and recorded history was apparent from the start, and our research team took action.
What we have learned, Christie was a member of the Royal Canadian Navy & he was shown the door very shortly after completing recruit school (serial 6934) at CFB Cornwallis, NS. He was never qualified as a radioman or “medic” however, he claims he volunteered to deployed to the Republic of Vietnam with a “non-combatant” platoon of medical evacuation lifesavers and he was personally responsible for saving over 100 lives.
Christie says that he spent 15 months in country with 1st Div/2nd Reg Medevac Unit #6934, quite the coincidence that his medevac unit would have the same number as his recruit school serial…
Now, why would he be wearing a WW2 medal group and the hat badge of a unit he never served in?
Obviously, many people have been negatively impacted by his lies including family, friends & legion mates. We understand that they are all shocked to discover that’s he’s not the man they thought he was.
Mr Christie most likely believes that what he has perpetrated is essentially, harmless and victimless however, his published fairy tales resulted in considerable grief to the surviving sister of then, 19 year old Ranger Sergeant Rob McSorley, a Canadian who was killed in action in Vietnam while serving with L Company (Ranger), 75th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.
Rob’s sister wrote “ This fellow makes me very angry! How dare a fake like him even mention Rob’s name. This is disgusting!! My brother was an honourable man & unfortunately died at a young age – a little over a week past his 19th birthday. Even after all these years, it is still painful & I miss him every day. Mr. Christie has no honour & he should refrain from mentioning my brother’s name in future as he didn’t know him or experience what he went through as he wasn’t there. Mr. Christie, if you’re reading this, please own up to being a fake. In other words, be a MAN!! My brother was more of a man at 18/19 than you will ever”
Sgt Rob McSorley KIA 8 April 1970 http://www.virtualwall.org/dm/McsorleyRG01a.htm
We live in Cape Breton, and for about the last 10 years he (Mr Christie) has been “dressing up” and attending as a “veteran”- Remembrance Day Ceremonies in communities in our surrounding areas as well as schools.
Christie claims that his CO from his Vietnam days, travelled to Cape Breton to award him his Vietnam Campaign Medal..
Christie’s personal shrine which includes a WW2 “six pack” and assorted privately purchased medals of no legal standing.
Time to apologize for your reprehensible actions, surrender the bogus items and just fade away Mr Christie…
Mr Elwyn/Elwin David EVANS of Teulon MANITOBA claims he served in 2 Squadron of the SAS and was taken POW in Vietnam however, Australian Government records tell a different story. The Aus SASR and the NZ SAS served in Vietnam, and there are legends that the UK SAS may have fought alongside them. However, there were No Diggers or Kiwis taken POW during the Vietnam War, and it isn’t a great stretch of the imagination to say that there were no UK POWs either. Mr EVANS is just another just another poser who believes standing next to legitimate veterans, serving CF and RCMP members validates his claims…
Evans has never heard the Odd Angry Shot, the closest he got was the Routine Painful Shit!
Regardless of his claimed country of origin and service, Evans isn’t a recipient of the Military Cross (MC)! He’s rockin’ Sergeant’s rank badges, and during his time of his “service” in Vietnam only Officers below the rank of Major and Warrant Officers were eligible recipients…
He’s not listed on any of the MC databases (UK, Aus, NZ). This dude is an imposter who has worn a pseudo-uniform adorned with unearned medals & insignia and spews tales of his adventures in SE Asia for a gullible audience!
Military Cross (MC)– A third tier gallantry medal, roughly equivalent to Canada’s Medal of Military Valour (MMV), awarded by the UK, Australia, New Zealand and previously Canada.
The MC was/is awarded for exemplary gallantry in the field, and was available only to Warrant Officers and Officers prior to 1993. This would preclude “Sergeant” EVANS for being so recognized during the Vietnam War.
All MCs are named with the recipient’s name and year of the award. Mr Evans claims that his medal is a replacement that he received after the original one was destroyed in a fire!
General Service Medal 1962 (GSM) – The GSM, occasionally referred to as the General Campaign Medal, was awarded for “minor” campaign service (1962-2007). The medal always has an accompanying bar(s) detailing the specific campaign(s). The most common bar would be ‘NORTHERN IRELAND” however, there was a “SOUTH VIETNAM” bar awarded to a very limited number of Australian Army and Air Force Personnel.
All GSMs are named with the recipient’s Name, Rank, Corps / Regiment.
Interestingly, EVANS is wearing 2 General Service Medals side by side!
United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Medal – a service medal awarded to individuals who served a minimum of 90 days as a member of the UN Force in Cyprus after 26 March 1964. Evans claims that he earned this medal as a member of the 6th Bn of the Parachute Regiment in 1963-4.
SV-C has searched the London Gazette, which lists the details of UK national level honours and awards, EVANS in not listed asMilitary Cross recipient. Nor, is he listed as an Australian recipient of the MC. As the MC was awarded only to Warrant Officers and Officers until 1993, this would certainly preclude “Sergeant” EVANS for being so recognized during the Vietnam War.
Elwyn Evans contacted us in December 2019 and demanded that we remove the posts detailing his medallic fuckery™ from all SVC platforms or, he would be taking legal action against us.
So, according to Evans, over the course of 4 years (1963-1967) *He joined the Brit Army, *Trained as an infantryman, *Qualified as a paratrooper, *Served as a Peacekeeper in Cyprus, *Was promoted to Sergeant, *Earned his blade badge with the SAS, *Fought in Vietnam with @ Ia Drang in 1965, *Taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, *Escaped from captivity, *Fought his way back to friendly forces, *Awarded the Military Cross, *2 tours of duty in Northern Ireland and, *Emigrated to Canada. Cool story Bro!
As per our SOPs, we invited him to prove us wrong.
Evans then provided us with a long list of his “proof of service” including images of his now expanded group of medals and an image purporting to be him as a Sergeant in the UK Special Air Service Regiment.
The 8 of the medals Evans wears are privately purchased, commemorative medals of no legal standing, they are self awarded, make believe embellishments “recognizing” his fictional military service.
The trinkets include the British Forces Campaign Medal, the Prisoner of War Medal General Service Medal, the British Army of the Rhine Medal, the Parachute Regiment medallion, the Cold War Medal, the Special Forces Medal, the Veterans Star and the Vietnam Veterans Medal…
Anyone can purchase them for on line for a few hundred bucks plus shipping and handling.
Like convicted Valour Thief Peter Miklos Toth of Red Deer Alberta, Evans figured that parading with CF members and the RCMP on Remembrance Day 2016 would bring some legitimacy to his medallic fuckery™
The uniform, insignia and head dress that EVANS is wearing are nothing more than a fantasy creation. 2nd Special Air Service (SAS) was disbanded shortly after the 2nd World War, therefore the insignia are incorrect regardless, he’s not old enough to have soldiered during WW2!
The winged blade badge of the SAS would be sewn on a tan beret, and not what appears to be either the head dress of the United Nations or the UK Army Air Corps. The distinctive parachute wings are SAS specific and awarded only to members of the SAS Regiment.
He is also a convicted prohibited weapons manufacturer however, medals aren’t awarded that type of captivity…
Oh, we almost forgot the picture, remember the one with showing Evans as a SAS Sergeant in 1964? A quick image search shows that it’s actually Israeli Defence Force SF operators rehearsing just prior to the Entebbe Raid in 1976.
SVC now believes that Mister Elwyn David Evans has jumped to more time periods than Marty McFly!
Evans has also been show cased on our partner’s pages in the US and in Australia at www.anzmi.net
Gervais pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful use of military uniforms and unlawful use of military decoration while dressed as a sergeant while attending Remembrance Day services at the National War Memorial in 2014.
We were asked to review a number of photographic images of “Sergeant” Robert Cooper who resides in the Wetaskiwin, Alberta area.
Our review identified many inconsistencies in his medallic display and, when combined with his confusing claims of service, that gave us cause to question his entire military narrative.
Our team conducted a thorough review of all available records, this included websites, newspaper articles, photographic images, regimental tour books, searchable data bases of medal recipients and extracts from military documents in Canada and the US in order to determine the legitimacy of his claims.
SV-C then reached out to the regimental and corps associations, their museums and other organizations in which Cooper has claimed to have served. The publicly accessible records, that we have had the opportunity to review, do not support the majority of his claims. The absence of verifiable records alone does not conclusively prove that an individual is a fake or embellisher, it just indicates that there are no records…
Mr Cooper has been playing his came for a number of years until the RCMP came knocking on his door.
From the images we were asked to review, It appears that the individual is wearing the Medal of Bravery (MB) and the Sacrifice Medal (SM). Fortunately, one’s entitlement to the MB is easily confirmed via the list of recipients available on the Governor General’s website ( http://gg.ca/honours.aspx?lan=eng ). Not surprisingly, Cooper is not listed.
Entitlement to the SM is somewhat more difficult, there have been approximately 850 awarded since its creation and the names of the living recipients are not in the public domain, except for the individuals who received their’s @ Rideau Hall during the initial presentation ceremony. That being said, it’s virtually impossible for a living individual to have a SM without an accompanying campaign medal.
Cooper claims this group of medals from his “service” as a civilian contractor working for the US Army and USMC.
US Purple Heart Medal – In 1997, at the urging of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the USCongress passed legislation prohibiting future awards of the Purple Heart to civilians. Today, the Purple Heart is reserved for men and women in uniform. Civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense who are killed or wounded as a result of hostile action may receive the Defense of Freedom Medal created after the terrorist attacks on 11 Sept 2001.
Once again, purchasing a bogus certificate and wearing a fake medal doesn’t change simple arithmetic and recorded history!
What we do know, Cooper was a Signalman (Private) radio operator in I Headquarters and Signal Squadron located in CFB Calgary in the early 1980s. By all accounts, he had a some what lack lustre career trajectory, he couldn’t pass the Battle Fitness Tests required of all soldiers in the field force and it’s reported he went AWOL on at least 2 occasions! And, he was shown the door…
It appears that Mr Cooper doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to his claim of being involved in a mine strike! And, if you are offended by this caption perhaps, you should direct your ire towards Mr Cooper, an individual who portrays himself as a combat wounded vet!
Earl Woolery who claims that he served in the first Gulf War as a Cavalry Scout.
He was, in fact, a Staff Sergeant serving in an amored cavalry unit however, he didn’t deploy on any phase of Desert Shield / Desert Storm, as Lincoln, Nebraska wasn’t threatened by Saddam Hussein.
Thanks to our partners at This Ain’t Hell (http://thisainthell.us/blog/) we were able to confirm Mr Wollery’s actual status during GW1.
Aside from the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the two Liberation of Kuwait Medals and the extra OLCs… what’s the problem?
He must have been using some skookum optics / sensors as Lincoln, Nebraska was 7000 miles from the berm!
There’s much more to this fella’s story, we’ll just focus on the medallic fuckery™…
We were asked to review a number of photographic images of “Sergeant” Robert Kelly who resides in the Leamington, Ontario area.
Our review identified many inconsistencies in his dress / appearance and, when combined with his confusing claims of service, that has given us cause to question his entire military narrative.
Our team conducted a thorough review of all available records, this included websites, newspaper articles, photographic images, regimental tour books, searchable data bases of medal recipients and extracts from military documents in Canada in order to determine the legitimacy of his claims.
SV-C then reached out to the regimental associations, their museums and other organizations in which Kelly has claimed to have served. The publicly accessible records, that we have had the opportunity to review, do not support the majority of his claims. That being said, the absence of verifiable records alone does not conclusively prove that an individual is a fake or embellisher, it just indicates that there are no records…
Kelly has alluded to being a WW2 Veteran yet, he was born in Douglastown, New Brunswick in 1936. Now, we are not mathematical geniuses but, those numbers just don’t work… Therefore, question becomes, is he a legitimate Korean War Veteran, a Cold War era Veteran or, is he a Veteran at all?
In addition to his World War 2 foolishness, he has also claimed over the years to be an infantryman with The RCR “SPECIAL FORCES” (1953-1959), a “sky trooper”(whatever the hell that is!), a “NATO Peacekeeper” in Europe, a Code Talker, a Korean War Veteran, a British trained commando and, quite amazingly, he claims to have served in the Canadian Airborne Regiment over a decade before it was formed in April 1968.
Judging by the extensive press coverage he has received over the years, it appears that he’s being pimped as the veteran “go to guy”. The leadership of the Windsor Veterans Memories Project have showcased Mr Kelly at many of their events so, one would assume that they must have verified his military service. Factual errors and omissions occur due to misremembering & that can be forgiven. However, complete fabrications, not so much…
In the old style Battle Dress uniform image, he’s wearing a highly unlikely, and quite confusing display of medal ribbons including the (1) unofficial Aboriginal Millennium Medallion in the senior position, (2) followed by the 2 x WW2 ribbons (including the France & Germany Star), (3) the Special Service Medal NATO, (4) the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal without any accompanying tour medal , (5) the Coronation Medal, (6) the Canadian Decoration indicating a minimum of 12 years of good conduct and loyal service, (7) the Commissionares Long Service Medal, (8) the Service Medal of the Order of St John (without its accompanying ribbon) is often worn on his right lapel & there’s are some sort of parachutist wings on his left breast pocket.
On a stand up poster prominently displayed in the Windsor area, Kelly’s story included the following -“While in Europe, his tours included Germany, England & Holland. A highly trained reconnaissance soldier, as part of a 30 man reconnaissance team. He would gain information on Germany during the day, and then inform his Commanding Officer in the morning”
Was he alluding that he’s a WW2 vet who gathered information on the Nazis or, is he implying that he crossed the IGB and was gathering intelligence on Warsaw Pact Forces? Wearing the France and Germany Star leads us to believe that he was proclaiming himself to be a WW2 Vet!
In the more recent/current images, he’s wearing a maroon blazer along with maroon beret & any evidence of his claimed WW2 service has been removed.
The constant on his many make-believe uniforms is the Queen’s Coronation Medal. That particular medal was presented to just 15 junior ranks of the 2nd Bn of The RCR, all combat veterans/paratroopers who were members the Canadian Contingent in London, England during the 1953 ceremony. Not surprisingly, Mr Kelly’s name is not on that list…
He also says that he met the Queen in Picadilly Circus, and he talks about JOHN Prince (Does he mean Sergeant Tommy Prince MM of the 2nd Bn PPCLI?) who he claims he was forgotten by his regiment and family!
Other than the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, which he is a bonafide recipient, and the Special Service Medal (NATO) which he would have been awarded for his limited service in Europe, what’s the story regarding the other medals he’s been sporting?
This includes the Canadian Decoration (CD), which requires 12 years of qualifying service and good conduct so, how can an individual who claims only 6 years of service (1953-59) be entitled? Additionally, there’s absolutely no evidence that he’s eligible “peacekeeping service” to wear the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal.
We believe Mister Kelly may have found himself in a situation in which his stories, unchecked embellishment & outright lies finally caught up with him, and he was finding it difficult to extract himself. SV-C was prepared to assist with correcting this situation if and when Kelly made contact with us.
*What we do know.*
Private Bob Kelly, actually served in the Canadian Army as an infantryman with the 2nd Bn, The Royal Canadian Regiment in NW Europe. This was followed by a number of short time periods of service as a reservist in the Royal New Brunswick Regiment and the Windsor Regiment. He never advanced past the rank of PRIVATE during any of his actual service nor, did he get anywhere near the 12 year threshold to be awarded the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD).
SV-C reached out to Kelly in order to clarify the situation & he has not responded. But, the President of the Windsor Historical Society – Veterans’ Memories Project jumped into the discussion, vouched for Kelly’s service, and states he has all the paper work to back it up his buddy’s claims. However, he has refused to release the information so it could be independently verified and, has threatened SV-C with legal action, because we had “slandered an innocent soldier”!
What’s particularly disturbing, his supporters were actually going turn a blind eye to Kelly’s military fairytales and allow him to escort Hockey’s Memorial Cup, a trophy that is dedicated to all Canadian Armed Forces members who gave their lives in the service of our great country.
Kelly’s wife believes that the Memorial Cup was “designed with veterans in mind” and, here we thought the Memorial Cup commemorates Canada’s military sacrifices.
*The bottom line*
PRIVATE Robert Kelly had legitimate military service during the Cold War, that’s something in which he should have taken great pride. He had no need to embellish his time in the Army but, by doing so, he stood in the blood of our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price for our freedom during the period 1947-1991!
All of our research was provided to the law enforcement agencies which would have jurisdiction(s) in the area in which the alleged violation of s419 CCC had occurred. Additionally, we provided them with the contact information for the Library and Archives – Canada and the CF’s Directorate of Honours and Recognition so, a formal request for relevant documents should they so desire to further investigate Mister Kelly’s bogus military narrative.
Regardless, it’s been a long slog with former Private Kelly as a number of his supporters and enablers interfered with our activities, this entire situation could have been wrapped up a year ago!
We have no doubt that the demand for an apology has now been taken off the table.
The truth was always out there, now a friend and supporter of SVC has Kelly’s medals in his care and custody, the bogus medals will be removed from the group, and the legitimate medals will be returned in the very near future.
SVC also expects a public apology will be made to everyone who has been negatively impacted by Mr Kelly’s medallic fuckery™.
Donald Lemmond aka TYRELL spoke at a Remembrance Day activity at a Local college, telling the audience that he had served in the US Army during the Vietnam War. He wore a vast spectrum of medals including a Silver Star, a POW Medal and a Purple Heart.
Lemmond also told the audience how he had served in Afghanistan and Iraq and he had retired from the military in 2007 as a “full captain” in the medical corps. As it turns out, he spent some time in the reserves in Canada. Initially, Lemmond said that his cousin had awarded him the medals, but now he admits that he bought them and just pinned them on because “I thought it would give me a little more authority in the job that I was performing for the legion that I was in….”
The federal government has implemented new rules covering how veterans are invited to citizenship ceremonies, following the discovery of fake servicemen last year at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Hamilton, Ont. and Ottawa. Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) says it has has implemented a number of safeguards, including having CIC officials liaise with regional veterans’ associations, verify their records, and prevent dishonourably discharged veterans from participating. “The steps above will ensure that [Canadian Armed Forces] members and veterans may continue to play an important role in welcoming new citizens to the Canadian family, while ensuring that incidents such as the one referenced does not happen again,” said CIC spokeswoman Nancy Caron.
Donald Lemmond received a suspended sentence and 12 months probation after pleading guilty to unlawful use of military uniforms and medals.