PUYALLUP MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO POSING AS MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN AND CHAPLAIN WEARING UNEARNED MEDALS OF VALOR
Conducted Weddings, Funerals and Other Events Illegally Wearing Uniform and Medals for Valor
REGGIE L. BUDDLE, 59, of Puyallup, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Unlawful Wearing of United States Military Medals and Decorations, a violation of federal law punishable by up to six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. BUDDLE will be sentenced June 21, 2007.
In pleading guilty, BUDDLE acknowledged that during 2005 and 2006, in the State of Washington, he repeatedly posed as a decorated member of the United States Marine Corps, wearing a Marine Corps uniform, with insignia and rank of Captain, and wore official medals and service decorations awarded to soldiers on the basis of service and valor to the United States. In fact, Buddle never served in the United States Marine Corps, and never earned those medals and commendations. The medals and commendations worn by BUDDLE included such prestigious and well-known awards as the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, awarded for extraordinary contribution to national defense; the Combat Action Ribbon, awarded to soldiers for actual combat with opposing forces; the Presidential Unit Citation, awarded for extraordinary heroism in combat; the Vietnam Service Medal, available only to soldiers who served in Vietnam; and the United States Marine Corps Gold Jump Wings, awarded only to Marine Corps members.
During this same period of time, BUDDLE posed as a Marine Corps Chaplain and Reverend, officiating and presiding at weddings, baptisms, and funerals of servicemen, and others. BUDDLE had never been ordained as a chaplain, and was not authorized by State law to act in such a capacity. On February 27, 2006, wearing the Marine Corps uniform with the above military medals and decorations, Buddle participated in the opening ceremony of the Washington State Senate at the Capital in Olympia, Washington, and gave the opening prayer to that body, posing as a Chaplain.
“Falsely claiming medals is stealing “Valor” from those who put themselves in harms way protecting this great country. We must continue to recognize our veterans for the true and actual sacrifices they have made, and to publicly condemn those who tarnish that service by stealing their valor,” said Douglas Carver, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Inspector General.
The case was investigated by the Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Friedman.