By Rita Sherrow
World Scene Writer
February 2, 2016
Vietnam War veteran John Smith, leaning next to the Disaster Relief vehicle he staffed during one of the California wildfires, pays it forward as a volunteer with the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross. After being lost in a Vietnam jungle for almost three months, it was the Red Cross that helped him let his family know he was alive.
JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
A Tulsa World story that profiled a Red Cross volunteer in October brought numerous questions and protests from Vietnam veteran military groups.
John Smith, a Red Cross volunteer who was nominated for an award with the Tulsa Area United Way, identified himself as a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran who served more than 20 years in military service.
The veterans group Green Beret Posers Exposed and others immediately challenged Smith’s story.
The Tulsa World has tried repeatedly since October to talk to Smith, advising him the story was being challenged and to verify his military record. He claimed health issues and other reasons for not answering repeated requests for another interview.
Green Beret Posers Exposed has supplied the Tulsa World with military documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, that indicate Smith was never in Special Forces and only served in the military for a limited time (U.S. Army 1970-1972 and U.S. Navy 1974-1975). Additionally, records show Smith receiving medals for serving in Vietnam, although he was never a Green Beret or member of the Special Forces.
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Vietnam War veteran gives back to Red Cross that helped him in his time of need