Pity the Posers: They may be closer than you think

It seems yet another fake flag has been nabbed by the Poser Police. Given the numbers caught, how many of these guys are kicking around saying “I’m somebody!”?

David Vincent Weber, a 69-year-old former Marine, pleaded guilty in a San Diego court recently to wearing medals he had not earned. It also seems his years as a staff sergeant in the Corps weren’t enough—he has been passing himself off as a two-star Marine Corps general.

The Poser Police (and those who follow these sordid tales) were high-fiving the outing of yet another imposter, but the humiliation these valor thieves (and their families) suffer may outweigh any benefit gained while living out their fantasy. Weber and those like him are the sad cases because they are struggling to attain some out-of-reach intangible or fill a long-standing void. Some of these guys are not so bad and may be closer than you think.

Have I mentioned my father fabricated his Korean War service?

Vincent J. DiNicolo, who has appeared in a number of my posts, was a magnificent U.S. Navy sailor who spent much of his brief career in the Mediterranean. While making his funeral arrangements I was shocked to learn he had created a new veteran identity as a Korean War veteran, not just one of that era.

Vince had, in fact, served in the Navy during the Korean War and soon after left the service. He and my mom split when I was two; and he was widowed two decades later. After retiring from the Baltimore City Water Department, he eked out what seemed a happy life in Parkville, Md., a dreary ‘burb north of Baltimore. (“Parkville, baby!”) He had more friends than people I can claim to have encountered in my lifetime, and they saw him as a hero. (Baltimore people don’t venture far from home.) I explained to his friends I thought there had been a misunderstanding about his service. I don’t think they heard me. Later while going through his things I found the requisite, all be they unofficial, Korean War accoutrements that vets proudly wear.

My father was a poser. Did I mention I was THE historian for Korean War 50th anniversary commemorations when he died? Yes, this Korean War historian’s father was a Korean War imposter. But was I mistaken? Had I missed something? Had he really been in Korea? I’d have known if he had been in Korean, wouldn’t I?

It was Vince’s own account of the landing at Inchon that gave him away. I was told Daddy would talk about the poor boys gunned down as they went ashore. Hah! I had him! The landing at Inchon had been relatively unopposed. The revelation was like the tree falling in the woods. It didn’t matter. The scores of friends clung to this Korean Warrior Sailor image my father had come to make his own. If they did not know of his “heroism” before the wake, they knew the stories by heart before they left.

Any humor I had begun to see in all this was short-lived. The next morning my father was laid to rest with his parents and grandparents in a bleak, but Catholic, Baltimore city cemetery. As a sailor played his mournful taps, the daughter of my father’s girlfriend read an achingly beautiful eulogy – that, of course, detailed his service in Korea. It was a great story, and it never happened.

Selfish or not the situation seemed unfair to me. For reasons I will never know my father had chosen to fabricate a service history very different from the one he lived, something I would have been happy never discovering. Vince had lost boyhood friends in the carnage the Army experienced in the early days of the war. But my guess is his interests were as pathetic as they were self-serving. Other imposters have detailed the positive impact their unscrupulous actions have had on others, which may have been why he continued the charade, aside from the fact he was stuck in this faux history and may have begun to believe it.

Pity the posers (and their children) for the kingdom …

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