Former Marine steals dead combat veteran's valor
November 25, 2016
Casey Owens will always be a hero to his sister.
“There is the saying that all gave some, but some gave all,” says Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink of Trophy Club. “That was Casey.”
The Marine lost both legs when his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine in Iraq in 2004. For his bravery, he received the Purple Heart.
“Casey wasn't perfect but he stepped up,” she said. “That's what makes him a hero to me."
What really hurts her is knowing that a fellow Marine stole her late Casey's story of valor. It was Casey's fellow battle buddies who discovered Brandon Blackstone's web of deception.
“It took my breath away that someone would do something like that,” she says.
Blackstone recently pled guilty to felony counts related to the deception. He will be sentenced in February. He faces up to 21 years behind bars for his crimes.
For years, Blackstone had gone around the country talking about how he had been injured when a Humvee ran over a land mine. He claimed to have suffered a traumatic brain injury. He claimed he suffered leg and ankle injuries. He claimed he earned a Purple Heart.
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Marine admits lying about combat injury in Iraq to get free house, VA benefits
The Dallas Morning News
By Kevin Krause
Published: November 22, 2016
“These were supposed to be your brothers, and you steal valor from one of your brothers?” said Kleibrink, who lives in Trophy Club. “My mom and I just feel so sad for this guy. For someone to do this, you are not a Marine.”Lezleigh Kleibrink, with a photo of her late brother, Casey Owens, called Blackstone's deception "a slap in the face."They were two Marines from Texas in western Iraq, taking part in some of the worst fighting in the early stages of the insurgency.
(David Woo/Staff Photographer)
Both left the battlefield early — and ended up with Purple Hearts. But one didn’t earn it.
Casey Owens was critically injured and lost his legs when his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine. He committed suicide in 2014 after a decade of suffering from numerous surgeries, brain injury and severe pain.
Brandon Blackstone went home after about a month, his military records show. His medic said he got appendicitis and did not return. The Arlington man ended up in a Dallas federal courtroom last month, where he pleaded guilty to two felonies for claiming he was “blown up” in a Humvee in Iraq in order to profit personally.
Blackstone said in an online biography that he had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Germany.Owens’ Marine buddies say they believe Blackstone took key details of Owens’ combat injury and made them his own so he could bilk the government and charities out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
(Channel 4 News)
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