Media faked out by 84-year-old phony Vietnam veteran army nurse
If journalism isn't dead, it must certainly be on life support when it can be knocked so easily on its collective butt by an 84-year-old Stolen Valor fraud, who flimflammed even Fox News with her tales of wartime heroics, faux medals, and a handful of push-ups. Margaret DeSanti, a self-proclaimed retired lieutenant colonel (sometimes captain) Army nurse, is a known phony Vietnam vet who was first exposed as such five years ago by TAH (This Ain't Hell), one of the military blogs that long ago took on the mission of guarding the veterans' community from those who falsely claim honorable service.
Maggie, as she calls herself, isn't some harmless little old grannie regaling gullible reporters with impossible tales of derring-do. She is now, thanks to her latest exploits, a potential felon. As so many of the Stolen Valor frauds do, when not conclusively stopped in their illicit pursuits, Maggie kept rocking her lie to bigger and bigger venues until finally she attained her fifteen minutes of fame — fame she probably wishes now she could take back. Fox10 Phoenix aired a video made by Honor Flight Arizona showing constant self-promoter DeSanti challenging a TSA agent to a push-up contest prior to boarding an HFA flight to Washington, D.C. as one of the many Honor Flight programs. It was that bit of chutzpah that brought her national fame and, soon, her latest unwanted exposure.
Maggie, widow of a career Air Force master sergeant, has created a jumbled mess of a mythical military career, confusing Army ranks, titles, medals, awards, even wars with similar yet different terminologies, taken, likely, from her husband's service. She's awarded herself ribbons and medals for chronologically impossible service in campaigns from WWII to Desert Storm. She claims to have earned the Army senior parachutist badge, which requires extended service in a parachute unit accompanied by specialized training, as well as Air Force Command Pilot Wings, which require years of service and thousands of hours of rated pilot time.
Further, Maggie has long claimed to be an Army nurse in Vietnam, where she flew into combat on helicopters and rappelled into the jungle to save wounded soldiers — a totally laughable exploit, as legitimate Vietnam veterans will tell you. Nurses did not go outside the perimeter wire, and the only troops rappelling into the jungle were Long Range Reconnaissance Personnel and special operators. Maggie claims that the nurses rode into combat aboard the helicopters in teams of four, which, had she actually ever done it, she would realize would leave little to no room for the wounded they were supposedly there to extract. As an infantryman who spent countless hours aboard utility helicopters in Vietnam, I can assure readers that this is the case.
Where Maggie has truly left her Stolen Valor exploits exposed is in taking the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., depriving some truly deserving veteran of a seat — and not just a seat, but a hotel room as well, and the necessary meals and ground transportation, all funded by donations. In accepting those services under false pretenses, Maggie has committed multiple violations of the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2013. Moreover, among her varied claims, DeSanti previously claimed publicly that she is a recipient of the Silver Star, the military's third highest valor award, a violation of the act separate from her accepting gratuities under fraudulent pretenses.
As is glaringly obvious, a federal judge needs to make Margaret DeSanti cease and desist. He should convict her and sentence her to the year called for under the law. He should then issue probation on condition that she publicly destroy her uniforms and military paraphernalia and pay restitution to all whom she has financially defrauded. It should be made crystal-clear that any further act of stolen valor will result in immediate revocation of probation and, regardless of her advanced age, she will be jailed.