Emmett Tyrrell
WASHINGTON -- Here we are now in the afterglow of another Memorial Day. The flags and the bunting are being put away. The memories endure for another year of our honored dead, of the brave wounded, of the veterans -- some grizzled, some still youthful -- all deserving their country's gratitude. Then there are the impostors, who have created -- often from zilch military honors -- whole careers, records of heroism and splendid triumphs. What wretches!

One is Joseph Brian Cryer, 45, who claimed to be a U.S. Navy SEAL and boasted online of his "77 confirmed kills" during a glorious operation in Libya in 1986. A genuine SEAL, Don Shipley, exposed Cryer as an impostor. Shipley has taken it upon himself to expose frauds and veterans who engaud their war records. It must be a full-time occupation. This kind of thing happens surprisingly often and very much in public. A best-selling historian was suspended for a year from his college teaching position for bragging to his students of his Vietnam War feats, and oh, yes, he claimed exploits on the football field, too. Both claims were fabrications. Now with SEAL Team 6's exploits in snagging Osama bin Laden, SEALs are turning up everywhere.

Cryer admitted his hoax to The Washington Examiner, explaining that he had confected the story as "a coping mechanism" because of some grievance he had against the Navy. He did serve in the Navy in the 1980s, but as a seaman, not as a SEAL. I thought a "coping mechanism" was a euphemism for drowning one's problems in booze or some other addiction. Now a coping mechanism is a lie. Well, it did not help Cryer.

Actually, in Cryer's case, his embellishments are somewhat understandable. He was running for office. He was a candidate for City Council in Ocean City, Md., in 2006. He was just doing what a lot of successful politicians do. They run claiming achievements that are completely fictional, and those who are caught often win office anyway.

Remember Richard Blumenthal, who was the attorney general of Connecticut? He ran for the U.S. Senate claiming, "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam." That was a lie, but the Hon. Blumenthal repeated it in various forms throughout his campaign. In truth, he received no fewer than five military deferments and finally a sweet job in the Marine Corps Reserve. He also lied about his athletic career. Contrary to his claim, he never was captain of the Harvard swimming team or even swam on the team. The voters elected him nonetheless.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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