Dr. Fogg & Sir Daniel presents..

The Lost Veteran

In Daniels articles on August 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

DAYTONA BEACH —  Joseph Wagstaff, a Massachusetts native, introduced as a Silver Star recipient and Air Force fighter pilot, says he was shot down and survived a crash into a North Korean barracks, killing the enemy inhabitants. Then, he said he led 100 American POWs on a 10-day march to safety.
Joe is an amazing man, I have met many older veterans over the years who have incredible stories, like Joes, to tell and all you have to do is stop and listen. 

I remember one time when I put my World War One airplanes on display at the library, I got a phone call from a man who served in World War Two yet he remembered the stories about the pilots and dogfights that he was told back in the early 1940’s..

 Another time I was doing another program with those same planes when I met an older man named Clifton who flew in World War Two yet he told me the man who trained him flew in World War One..

In both cases, those planes brought back memories to two old men who needed to smile again.
yet.. as for Joe’s story..

Hal Barker, a former news reporter and founder of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Fund in Washington D.C., said based on Joe Wagstaff’s age, his story is impossible. The veteran was born Jan. 31, 1937, according to Gray Kilpatrick, administrator of the Emory L. Bennett Veterans Nursing Home, where Wagstaff lives. That would have made him 13 at the start of the three-year war which ran from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. Wagstaff would not have been old enough to have received flight training and complete such a mission..
Did Joe lie?  Was he a hero?  Is he lost in a past that is part fiction part fact?  Wagstaff reply was that he had lied about his age to enter the military and claimed he couldn’t remember his exact birthdate.  “I did fly, but I was not a pilot,” Wagstaff said on the phone from the nursing home on Tuesday. He stands by his story. “That’s what happened. That’s why I got the Silver Star. It was a long time ago.”

Our country gave him a silver star, surely THEY wouldn’t have done that if his story wasn’t true..

but then again..

Wagstaff’s son, Joseph Wagstaff Jr. of California, said his father has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. His son believes the story is made up.

“He has been telling me stories about the Korean War since I was a kid,” said the younger Wagstaff in a phone interview,  “He said he won the Silver Star, but they never gave it to him. He sent it (the Silver Star) to me maybe five years ago,” the son said. “No papers arrived with the medal”.

Joe’s own son doesn’t believe his father..  Joe Jr, who lives clear across the country, even goes on to say..

“I don’t want to embarrass my father, but my gut is that it’s made up, not because he is trying to hurt anybody,” he said. “He just wants something to talk about and feel good because he has nothing left but me”
If he didn’t want to embarrass him, why would he say that to a news media outlet?   What I find hard to believe is this son, who shares his name and lives 4000 miles away from his only living parent, would call his Dad a lier..

what if Joe is telling the truth?  what kind of warm feelings is he getting right now having something he believes is true, from his past..  ripped apart by his son in public..  what are the rest of the people at the resthome thinking?

we owe our parents more than that..  this man risked his life for our freedom, even if Joe wasn’t a Sargent York or Rambo, he was a veteran and he deserved more than that..

Joseph Wagstaff, you keep that silver star because you have every right to wear it proudly..  I’m sorry your Country may have placed you in a rest home and your only son moved away.. but you are NOT forgotten and anytime you want to tell me your story I will be willing to listen.

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