Veterans: Alleged scam ‘sad situation’
CHICAGO–Adam probably told Eve that he planted the Garden of Eden.
“Since the beginning of time, men have lied to make themselves look macho,” said Rick DeWolf, a disabled Vietnam War Army veteran and retired history teacher at Argo Community High School in Summit. “Guys lie, and guys brag.
“And they do it to make themselves look like heroes, usually for women. That’s how it’s always been.”
Police on Wednesday were still trying to figure out why a 42-year-old Morris man allegedly lied about being a soldier in Iraq and bilked the Orland Fire Protection District — where he served as a lieutenant — of nearly $200,000 in salary and benefits.
Lawrence Masa was charged with felony theft and official misconduct, officials said. If convicted, Masa could face up to 15 years in prison.
DeWolf said Masa isn’t the first, nor will he be the last, person to misrepresent his or her military record.
Early Western movie star “Tom Mix lied and said he was in the Spanish-American War,” DeWolf said…
“A Major League Baseball manager in the 1990s got fired for misrepresenting his military service.
“I even had a colleague at Argo High School who lied about his service in Vietnam.
He said he can tell within minutes when guys lie about their military service.
“I ask them about the little things, like the daily malaria pills we took,” DeWolf said. “And the thing about those who lie about their service, they are always the ones who were the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs.
“No one ever was a cook,” he said. “I guess the other jobs make for better stories.”
DeWolf, who received the Purple Heart among his four combat medals, said he has seen men wearing uniforms with chests full of medals and ribbons. The uniform and medals were bought at a military supply store.
He says the government should enact tougher penalties for those who pretend to be soldiers.
“Lying about being in the military is the worst thing you can do,” DeWolf said. “Our cemeteries are filled with men and women who served their country with dignity and honor.”
Cathy Clarke, of Tinley Park, whose son Kevin was killed in combat in Iraq nearly two years ago, called what Masa did “pretty low.”
“That’s a sad situation what he did,” Clarke said. “I’d say he has some self-esteem issues.
“I just hope that stories like this don’t discourage people from supporting our troops. They need our support.”
Frank Mulcahy, a Vietnam-era Marine veteran, said Masa deserves to spend some time in prison.
“That would certainly teach him a lesson,” said Mulcahy, of Tinley Park. “Then, when he gets out of prison, let him go to Iraq and fight alongside the real soldiers in the war on terror.”
Army veteran Al Lynch, of Gurnee, who received the Medal of Honor — the military’s highest honor — said “there isn’t a jail bad enough for someone like that.”
“There definitely should be some demonstrative punishment for what he did,” said Lynch, one of about 150 Medal of Honor recipients still living. Most Medal of Honor recipients are honored posthumously.
Lynch served in Vietnam.
“Some people start embellishing military careers because they hang out with guys who really did serve, and they get caught up in the moment,” he said. “Others do it maliciously.
“They do it to scam others financially. Either way, it’s wrong and should be punished.”
Jim Hook may be reached at
or (708) 633-5961.