MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Maury County man has been sentenced to one year in jail for lying about his military service record.
Chris Williams, 59, was convicted Wednesday of forgery and stolen valor.
Prosecutors said Williams lied about receiving a number of medals, including Purple Hearts, which he never actually received.
In August 2019, a member of the Maury County Chapter of the Marine Corp League reported to the District Attorney’s office that he and other members of the league were suspicious Williams, a long time member of the league, was being dishonest about his service, according to a release.
Williams had submitted a military discharge record to the Marine Corp League as well as the Maury County Clerk as proof of his prior service. Investigators found the DD-214 record submitted showed Williams received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corp on Feb. 22, 1984.
The document also reflected that Williams had received numerous medals while in the Marines. The medals listed on Williams’ DD-214 were: The Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service, Navy Marine Corps Medal, National Defense medal, Marine Corp Expeditionary Force Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Force Medal, Good Conduct, Cold War Medal, Expert Rifle (M-16), Expert Pistol (45 cal.), Navy Marine Corps Jump Wings, Marine Corps Service Medal, and a Letter of Commendation (Toys for Tots).
Williams’ form claimed he received the following Military Education while in the Marines: Jump School, Small Unit Leadership Class, Sniper School, Demolition School, and Nuclear Biological, Chemical Warfare School.
He was also known to wear all of those medals to events with the Marine Corp League.
During the investigation, an investigator obtained a copy of Williams’ file from the National Archives in Washington. That record did not reflect any of the medals or education on the form submitted by Williams.
In fact, the actual form reflected Williams was discharged “UNDER OTHER THAN HONORABLE CONDITIONS’. Investigators learned Williams had agreed to that discharge in lieu of being Court Marshalled for Desertion (2 Counts).
“Although I never served in the military, this case was almost personal to me. My grandfather was a Marine in WWII and my Dad is a Navy veteran. I have many other relatives that are veterans. I have the highest respect for the men and women that put on the uniform and protect our country. When someone uses the sacrifices of others; real heroes, to falsely make themselves look good, it diminishes what they (the real veterans) have done for our country. I hope this sends a message to anyone else out there that has lied about military service that it will not be tolerated in this district.” District Attorney General, Brent Cooper
In addition to a year behind bars, Williams will have to pay $700 in fines for using Purple Heart tags on his vehicle.
He must also serve two years probation after his release.