Sunday, March 6, 2011

VFW post commander resigns amidst allegations of fabricated war record

VFW post commander resigns amidst allegations of fabricated war record
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Saturday, 05 March 2011
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A local man has resigned his post as commander of the Lakeport Veterans of Foreign War post in the midst of allegations that he falsely claimed to have served in Vietnam.

Robert Lawrence Deppe, 57, of Upper Lake submitted a letter of resignation in mid-February after members of the VFW Post 2015 confronted him about the allegations, according to Post Adjutant Kirk Macdonald.

Lake County News reached Deppe via e-mail but he refused to comment for this story.

Earlier in February Macdonald said it was brought to the attention of post members that Deppe was “possibly not eligible to be a member of the VFW because his military record was not valid.”

Macdonald said post members also learned at that time about Deppe's arrest on Feb. 9 for felony passing a fictitious check and misdemeanor petty theft.

Capt. James Bauman said Deppe turned himself in at the Lake County Jail shortly after midnight on Feb. 9 following an investigation into allegations that he took money from his brother-in-law, who lives with him.

Deppe allegedly took eight $100 bills and five $20 bills and replaced them with fake bills. Bauman said Deppe also is alleged to have taken to two $100 bills from his wife's purse, also putting fake bills in their place.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff said Deppe has been charged with forgery and felony petty theft.

Post members asked Deppe to respond to the allegations regarding his arrest and military record at the Feb. 14 meeting, Macdonald said.

They also asked him to sign a Form 180 so his military record could be accessed and verified, according to Macdonald.

“Mr. Deppe chose to write a letter of resignation as commander of the post and also to be removed from the roles of the VFW membership,” Macdonald said. The resignation reportedly went into effect on Feb. 16.

Macdonald said Deppe wouldn't respond directly to the questions about his record, and made no admissions one way or the other.

While the allegations were new to the local post members, questions of Deppe's military record have been arising for several years, according to Mary Schantag, who along with her husband Chuck, a Vietnam veteran, founded the nonprofit POW Network,

“He has been doing this for years and has been exposed, and had been exposed in the past,” Schantag said of Deppe in an interview with Lake County News.

Schantag said Deppe had been under investigation since 2005, after he posted a story on the VFW 2015 Web site, which came to the attention of POW Network members.

Deppe had claimed on the VFW Web site – which he helped administer – to have been a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army form 1971 to 1974, receiving the Purple Heart, as well as the Silver and Bronze Stars. He also said he was a Ranger on Company H, 75th Infantry, Third Brigade, First Cavalry Division.
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VFW post commander resigns amidst allegations of fabricated war record