A Wisconsin graduate student and Iraq war veteran is surprised that he is under disciplinary review, barred from campus outside of attending classes, after a confrontation in which he accused a classmate of stolen valor.
Ryan Lonergan, a 28-year-old who served in the Wisconsin National Guard for eight years, said that last week he publicly accused a man of pretending to be a U.S. Marine. After someone complained about the verbal confrontation on George Williams College campus, administrators launched an investigation and, as part of its standard practice, asked that he only come to campus for class. Lonergan, who is studying social work, though said this bars him from completing field study hours outside of class that are needed for his major.
“He came up to me, saw the stickers on my computer, my tattoos,” Lonergan said. “He said, ‘Hey, were you in the military?’”
Lonergan said he didn’t know the man’s full name but he claimed to have served in the U.S. Marine Corps and proceeded to sit down at the booth to swap stories. During their conversation though, Lonergan said things didn’t add up.
He questioned many things this man mentioned as well, but where Lonergan thinks he caught him was at the mention of BFT inside military humvees. BFT stands for Blue Force Tracking, but when Lonergan was talking about it with this man, he called it the Biometric Force Tracker, and this man, he said, agreed with him.
At this point, Lonergan got up and walked toward the other side of the dining hall.
“That’s when I looked at him and said, ‘I don’t believe anything you’re saying. You have one opportunity to tell me the truth.’
“I said, “Were you in the Marine Corps?’ No. ‘Did you go through boot camp?’ No.
“He told me that he knows it’s pathetic, and I said ‘Yeah, it is. It’s a disgrace.”
Lonergan said he walked back to his table and with a few four-letter words told this man to collect his food and sit elsewhere. Lonergan said his voice was raised but that he didn’t threaten this man, nor did he touch him.