Man who inflated his military service sentenced in Roanoke

By Mike Gangloff


A man who falsely claimed a chestful of military medals was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and was ordered to repay $11,098 in veterans benefits he shouldn't have received.

Thomas Barnhart, 59, had 21 years of legitimate Navy and Coast Guard service, including offshore duty in Vietnam. But starting in 1979, he began inflating his experience in claims for promotions and benefits, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake Jacobsen told U.S. District Judge James Turk today in Roanoke.

Among Barnhart's lies, according to the prosecutor: he was a Navy SEAL, he received elite low-altitude parachute training, he was awarded five Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars and a Vietnamese medal of honor. He also falsely claimed that a downed U.S. helicopter pilot died in his arms and that he saw other U.S. soldiers die around him.

Jacobsen, a veteran of the current Iraq war, called Barnhart's conduct "repugnant."

Barnhart wept in court and said he lied because neither the Navy nor the U.S. public appreciated his real service.

"I just can't punish myself enough," he said, sobbing. "Every day I ask forgiveness."

Posted to: Military Virginia

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We will see this more and more I believe. The real heroes, who go on multiple tours to a war zone, and the wannabes who are too cowardly to volunteer for actual danger, but who want the same glory as everyone who actually was there in the hour of danger. Stolen honor is a particularly repugnant crime in my book. And, of course, the cowards weep when they are caught.

Don't forget Admiral Boorda

Admiral Boorda died in 1996 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. Apparently he took his own life because he had displayed the "Combat V" on two of his awarded Medals(Navy Achievement and Navy Commendation Medals). It was later determined that he was not qualified or entitled to wear the Combat V (for valor in combat)on his two ribbons/medals. This man took his service to country very seriously and, even though his Vietnam Commander (Admiral Zumwalt) said he was entitled to same, he took his own life.

Admiral Boorda

Vietnam War
War in Yugoslavia
Bosnian War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit (3)
Meritorious Service Medal (2)
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Navy Good Conduct Medal (2

Not enough

That sentence should be applied consecutively for each medal falsely worn.

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