Ryan Lonergan is an Iraq War veteran who had served in the Wisconsin National Guard from 2006 through 2014.
Now a student at George Williams College in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, Lonergan was approached last Tuesday in a campus dining hall by a gent “who saw his tattoos and asked [him] if he had served.”
After Lonergan affirmed his service, the man then informed him that he, too, had served — that he was a Marine Infantry Officer who had “attended Spartan Academy in Arizona.”
While Lonergan initially was a bit surprised that the guy approached him and offered up various personal information, what really made him suspicious were the man’s “insane stories and the fact that he would so freely share them with a stranger …”
“But the real tip off that he was lying came when he could not explain the GPS systems in military Humvees. I asked him open ended questions that only I knew the answers to. Plus he told me that he earned his commission as an officer with an associate degree — I have never heard of that before.”
Knowing that the student was indeed a fraud, Lonergan pulled him aside but still within view of fellow students and berated him for his stolen valor.
“I told him I did not believe his stories and I gave him one chance to tell me the truth before I’d go to the proper authorities. It took him a good minute, I could see the hamster and wheel start to spin and he confessed he was not in the Marine Corps and he didn’t even pass the MEPS. I then told him that his behavior is unacceptable and a violation of the law.
The next day, Lonergan found out that the college had begun discipline proceedings … against him.
“[He] alleged that Ryan shoved him, and threatened physical violence, which Ryan categorically denies.”
The disciplinary hearing was originally scheduled for yesterday; however, “because the hearing has gone to the media,” wrote Dean of Academic and Student Life Kate Herrick to Lonergan, “we are consulting with the university’s attorneys.” She said she would inform him when the hearing was rescheduled.
Despite the disciplinary hearing being delayed, Lonergan is barred from campus except to attend classes.
As for the student who approached Lonergan and filed the complaint, the veteran says he heard from other students that “[he] apparently ‘packed up his car, and he skipped town’ …”
Charges for stolen valor require some intent of “financial or other tangible benefit.” In a letter sent to the college president, Lonergan claims the “Marine” was going around campus “asking for weed” because “he couldn’t sleep [due to] his traumatic military experience.”
h/t to Vicki McKenna.
(This article was updated to reflect details of the stolen valor law and Lonergan’s letter to the GWC/Aurora president.)