An investigation is underway into whether a veteran who took part in Remembrance Day ceremonies at St. Francis of Assisi Middle School last week was an imposter.
Stolen Valour Canada is a group that aims to expose imposters posing as military personnel or veterans. They contacted rdnewsNOW Friday to share concerns over a man named Peter Toth and the authenticity of his service with the US Marine Corps.
A spokesperson with the group says they’ve been in contact with experts in the US after being tipped off about images from the ceremony on the school’s Facebook page.
Notable observations Stolen Valour suggests the man seen in the photos is not representing his military career correctly include:
-wearing ink-stained desert camouflage to a public event, which is not authorized;
-wearing a campaign hat off the parade field, which also has an incorrect insignia on it;
-rank badges in the wrong place;
-medals, garb and campaign service which don’t line up;
-wearing insignia he would not be entitled to if he were a USMC infantryman;
-wearing a dickie around his neck, which is not authorized, according to Stolen Valour;
“Based on our concerns, we contacted USMC experts, and they agree that this individual was likely never a Marine, and he is portraying one very poorly,” Stolen Valour said.
In a Facebook conversation between Stolen Valour and Toth, he claimed to have served in Kandahar Province and “Hazbollah.” Hezbollah, as it’s properly known, is a political party in Lebanon, and is considered by several nations including Canada and the United States to be a terrorist organization.
When Stolen Valour questioned Toth further about his Purple Heart, he claimed to have been shot in June 2005 in Afghanistan. However, Stolen Valour points out he previously claimed to have retired from the USMC in 1985, before any conflicts involving North America ever took place in Afghanistan.
Stolen Valour has contacted Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and St. Francis of Assisi Principal Gary Gylander with their concerns.
“Most schools go to their local Royal Canadian Legion Branch and it’s there where they request a veteran, so we just trust the Legion,” RDCRS spokesperson Meghan Alton told rdnewsNOW. “It’s a simple process but maybe we should be doing our own.”
Alton says Gylander was informed on Monday and called Toth to ask him to produce his service record papers. Toth said he would, but to this point Gylander has received nothing.
“Gylander is very upset over this,” Alton explained. “He has called our Legion and they are also aware of the situation and they are also launching their own investigation.”
Jim Bourgoin, GM of Royal Canadian Legion Branch #35 confirms as much.
Stolen Valour says their intent is to contact Red Deer RCMP if Toth does not reach out to them with either a certificate of release or discharge from active duty. Section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada speaks to the unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates.
Red Deer RCMP say they are yet to hear from Stolen Valour regarding these claims.
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