This “Marine-SEAL-EOD master gunnery sergeant,” a man of fantasy who has not yet been identified by name, has been called plenty of names by those who’ve sen the picture. Troops, supporters of troops and probably even some hippies are incensed.
He’s wearing almost every ribbon in the inventory including World War II, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a Navy Cross, a SEAL trident, the EOD “crab,” an aiguillette, marksmanship badges, an aviator badge, etc., etc.
Thousands of impostors like this have been exposed by P.O.W. Network, a web site launched in 1989 by Chuck Schantag and the woman he would marry four years later, Mary.
For years, Chuck and Mary and their vast network of countless vigilant supporters, have dug up pictures, documents, videos and other evidence against posers and then posted it all on the site: www.pownetwork.org.
P.O.W. Network and the fight against stolen valor are still going strong, but Chuck is gone. He died Feb. 23 in his “man cave” near Branson, Mo., where he and some buddies planned to make hamburgers with a steer they had butchered.
“It’s a pigsty hunting camp where they’d go out and chase armadillos, come back, reload and go out again,” Mary told me a few days after Chuck’s death.
Charles “Chuck” Patrick Schantag, Jr. served in Vietnam and was there during the Tet offensive in 1968. He was a Purple Heart recipient. He was 64 when he died.
Fakers angered Chuck, Mary said, because they claimed what his buddies earned “and some didn’t make it back, they didn’t have a chance to survive and raise their own families.”
Mary said talked to Chuck on the phone about 30 minutes before he collapsed of a heart attack while sitting at the table with his friends.
“The last thing we said to each other was ‘I love you.'”