|03-03-2008, 12:52 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Marine Corps Moderator
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Northern Virginia
Doesn't deserve to wipe a Corpsman's boots
Former sailor accused of faking awards, rank
By Andrew Scutro - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 3, 2008 9:58:37 EST
NORFOLK, Va. — On Feb. 5, Chief Culinary Specialist (SS) Brian James was at his home on leave from duty at his recruiting station just outside Utica, N.Y., when his work cell phone rang.
On the phone was a man claiming to be the father of Seaman Recruit Brian Mazurowski, a local kid who’d shipped off to boot camp last July, James said.
The caller wanted to know what to do about Mazurowski, 19, because the young sailor had just phoned home with news he’d been wounded in Iraq and was on his way back to upstate New York.
“He was genuinely concerned,” James said of the caller. “He couldn’t get in touch with [his son]. He couldn’t get him on his cell phone.”
James hung up and immediately called Navy Hospital Corps School at Great Lakes, Ill., to inquire on Mazurowski’s status. As a recruiter, he could track the young man’s progress. Mazurowski had left boot camp Sept. 14 and reported to Corps School on the same training base that same day.
“They informed me he was never in Iraq, he’d never been injured and he’d just been administratively discharged that morning,” James said.
He called the dad back with the news that Mazurowski was safe.
“He said it didn’t seem right to him, either,” James said. “‘I figured’ was more or less what he said. I think he thought [his son’s] story was fishy.”
Three days later, on Feb. 8, James got a call from another chief at the recruiting station, telling him to come down — that there was an article in the local paper that he had to see.
On the front page of the Rural Oneida Star was a photo of Mazurowski wearing a chestful of combat decorations, an enlisted surface warfare qualification pin and a Fleet Marine Force pin. The recruit, who was a mere seven months into his Navy career, was also wearing a third-class crow. And the “E”s on his pistol and rifle medals were upside down.
A short article under the photo said “HM3 Brian Mazurowski” had been blasted “20 yards” by a roadside bomb while standing outside a Humvee while on patrol in Iraq on Jan. 26. The article claimed Mazurowski was attached to “2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment Fleet Marine Force Pacific and the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, patrolling a 100 mile radius between Al Fallujah and Baghdad.” In truth, the Hawaii-based 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, would enter Iraq the second week of February, according to a Marine Corps news story — one week after Mazurowski was booted from the Navy.
Incongruously, the Oneida County paper claimed Mazurowski was wounded in the ”knee, eye and wrist” while in ”Al Basra,” a British operating area a few hundred miles from Fallujah in southern Iraq.
The end of the article solicited cards for Brian.
The rapid chain of events that followed would out what many sailors believe is another Navy faker, since this was the second recent case of a sailor wearing unearned decorations to go public in as many months. It was also the second one involving the Navy’s proud and storied corpsman community, a highly decorated group of “devil docs” who don’t take kindly to posers.
Contacted by Navy Times, Mazurowski said he never deployed and denied telling tall tales of combat valor. As for wearing the uniform of a war hero, he said, “You can’t acquire those ribbons without citations. Everybody in the Navy knows that.”
A story unravels
Mazurowski is from Holland Patent, a small town at the base of the Adirondacks. And in small towns, people know each other.
As soon as the young sailor’s photo hit newsstands, the phone in James’ office started ringing again.
“I had a few calls from the outside, from retirees, saying, ‘This sounds fishy to me. Is this true?’”he said.
James went up the chain of command to his zone supervisor, Chief Navy Counselor (SS) Tim Corelli, a local who, like Mazurowski, had gone to Holland Patent Central High School, and Senior Chief Electronics Technician (SW) Patrick Walker at Navy Recruiting District-Pittsburgh.
Walker took the issue to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn., and corpsman community leadership.
“We didn’t want to damage him unduly,” Walker said.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service also was notified.
Navy officials began calling Mike Parker, the Rural Oneida Star’s publisher, about the story. Parker, who runs a publishing business out of his home, said he was contacted by Mazurowski’s family by fax with the war story in early February. He said he knows the family and used to employ Mazurowski’s brother for odd jobs.
Parker said Brian Mazurowski volunteered to come down to the newspaper office so they could run a photo and story.
“I held the press for him to get his story in,” Parker said. “Breaking news, you know.”
An hour later, Mazurowski arrived in the office, wearing his crackerjacks and limping, Parker recalled.
“He came in with all the ribbons and everything. He had a cane, and I had to help him stand up,” Parker said of the Feb. 6 meeting. When they realized they’d draped the U.S. flag backward behind Mazurowski in the photo, Parker wanted to do it over.
“He was too tired to do it over,” Parker said.
The story ran. Then the calls came in. Parker, after being contacted by Navy officials, printed a front-page retraction Feb. 21, writing that while “Brian stands by his story, ... the Navy asked that we print a retraction. So it is with great regret that we do so.”
Parker thinks now he should have known better — but at the time, he wanted the scoop.
In a telephone interview with Navy Times, Mazurowski said he will have a “New York City” lawyer sue Parker for “slander” in both the article and the retraction.
“The Navy didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. The editor didn’t get his facts straight,” he said. “Yes, I was in the Navy, but I was discharged on a health issue.”
Mazurowski admits it is his face in the photograph and his name tag, but he’s at a loss to explain the chevron on his sleeve or the ribbons and pins on his chest.
“No. I was only in the Navy for seven months. I’ve got two ribbons. That thing is all wrong,” he said. “The name tag and the face is correct. That’s not the uniform I have in my seabag right now.”
Mazurowski sent Navy Times a boot camp portrait of him wearing only the obligatory handout National Defense Service Medal. According to the Navy, he also rates the Pistol Marksmanship Medal. He also provided a DD 214 form showing a Feb. 5, 2007, discharge — apparently a typographical error, as it should read “2008” — and not much else. A DD 214 he allegedly provided to Parker and others itemizes extensive combat decorations and discharge as a result of “hardship.”
Mazurowski blames his brother for the photo that showed up in the local newspaper.
“My family comes from a poor background, and I don’t know if they want publicity or what,” he said. “I wasn’t in Iraq.”
He said he believes his brother doctored the photo that appeared in the newspaper, despite Parker saying he took it. As for the enhanced DD 214, he said, “I guess somebody took it and edited it somehow.”
Anger in the ranks
Mazurowski’s plight follows the January general court-martial of former corpsman Dontae Lee Tazewell, who told tales of Iraq combat and awarded himself a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Action Ribbon and other awards — triggering enough points to advance in rank and stay in the Navy, and even get a ceremony in his honor — before being unmasked and adjudicated. He’s now serving a two-year sentence in the Navy brig.
Mazurowski read that article when he was still in the Navy.
“I don’t want to turn out to be another HM2 Tazewell. My story is nothing like that,” he said. “I love the Navy. I really miss it.”
But his former high school principal, Gordon Garrett, tells a different story.
A retired Army colonel, Garrett said he was skeptical of Mazurowski when he came back to Holland Patent Central High School in early January asking to visit former teachers before shipping off to Iraq.
Being a former military man, Garrett was concerned that such a fresh recruit was going to war so quickly, but he reserved judgment.
“He was very appropriate. He was very polite. I didn’t question his going to Iraq. I thought something had happened to his status,” he said. “I remember I told him, ‘Don’t be a cowboy. Do what you are trained to do.‘“
His skepticism was justified shortly thereafter when Parker called him in early February asking if he knew anything about Mazurowski getting “blown up” in Iraq.
When he saw the newspaper article and the picture, Garrett banned it from school property.
He told Parker, “You are not going to distribute that paper in this school because I suspect there’s some fraud in it,” he said.
Mazurowski subsequently called Garrett, sticking to the Iraq story, Garrett said.
“He told me ‘Everything on my chest is on my 214.’ And I thought, ‘You fool, to say something like that,’” Garrett said.
Actual corpsmen might have some other choice words for Mazurowski.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Luis Fonseca received the Navy Cross for action with Marine units in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He saw the photo of Mazurowski on an online forum used by sailors and Marines. His first reaction was also doubtful.
“Due to the timelines, the ribbons he’s wearing and the warfare devices, he hadn’t been in long enough to rate them,” he said, adding that Mazurowski’s Fleet Marine Force ribbon was superceded by the FMF pin years ago.
Fonseca also said Mazurowski had attached his Combat Action Ribbon upside down and the flag behind him in the photo is not only backward, but draped, also a no-go.
“And to be a third class in such a short amount of time is unheard of,” he said.
In a letter in the Feb. 18 edition of Navy Times, Fonseca urged his fellow corpsmen not to take the Tazewell case as representative of the community. He pointed out that corpsmen are a highly decorated group, with 22 Medals of Honor, 170 Navy Crosses and thousands of Silver and Bronze Stars.
As a member of the Legion of Valor, Fonseca knows this case will get some attention among his fellow military cross and Medal of Honor recipients.
The Navy, however, will not pursue the case.
“There are no current plans for the Navy to implement any further action against him,” said Lt. Candice Tresch, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon.
Local authorities have not picked up the matter for possible prosecution under the Stolen Valor Act, a new law punishing those who wear unearned awards.
“As far as I know, no one has filed any kind of criminal complaint in regard to this, with any agency,” said Dawn Lupi, first assistant district attorney for Oneida County.
Corelli, the recruiter, said the incident has further infuriated the corpsman community.
“I know people who are FMF corpsmen in San Diego who have called about it,” Corelli said. “These guys gotta be called out and shown for what they are.”
|01-21-2009, 11:19 AM||#2 (permalink)|
CPOMA Royal Navy (Rtd)
Join Date: Apr 2006
Re: Doesn't deserve to wipe a Corpsman's boots
Clearly this Walter Mitty has a low opinion of himself if he feels the need to wear honours and decorations to which he is not entitled to.
|01-21-2009, 12:07 PM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: New York City
Re: Doesn't deserve to wipe a Corpsman's boots
I'll bet his health issue is mental...a pathological liar!
|boots, corpsman, deserve, wipe|
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