By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"I am pissed off!"
That was the subject line of an e-mail from soldier Phil Haberman ("G.I. Jerk," September 1) to the P.O.W. Network, which posted his name on its "Wall of Shame," devoted to exposing phonies and braggarts who make false claims about their war experiences. The Web site linked to the Dallas Observer's story about Haberman's bogus claims of service in Special Forces as a sniper.
"What the hell is my name doing on your wall of shame?" Haberman demanded. "I served with the 1/19th SFG (A) in SIGCEN. I received a 4187 for my Purple Heart that was submitted by Walter Reed MC in Washington DC. Please contact me IMMEDIATELY before legal action will be taken agains [sic] your site for slander and fraudulent reporting."
Haberman maintains that he was wounded in Iraq during an RPG attack, but Army sources say that documents submitted by Haberman in support of his Purple Heart were forged, and there is no credible evidence he was wounded in action. According to one of his commanding officers, there is no "R.S. Smith," the sergeant who signed a witness statement supporting Haberman's claim. For these and other reasons, according to Captain Eric C. Williams at Fort Bragg, on November 2, Haberman was booted from active duty and the North Carolina National Guard with an "other than honorable" discharge.
There are four main types of discharge: honorable, general under honorable conditions, other than honorable and dishonorable. An OTH discharge indicates there was nothing particularly honorable about a soldier's service, but it wasn't devoid of positive points. It does prevent Haberman from ever being placed on Army active duty in the future, however, and it limits a soldier's ability to draw certain government benefits.
Haberman did not return an e-mail requesting comment. His wife, Kristen Rhoad Haberman, says their divorce trial is scheduled in Nevada on November 18, and she claims that he's submitted forged documents about his military service to the court. Haberman has changed his militarysingles.com profile to say he's "only looking for friends" but continues to maintain he is in Special Forces. And Haberman has a new claim to fame: "I'm getting back into bicycle racing and was picked up by a pro team for next season."
Maybe he'll try the Air Force next.