D. J. Burkett and Glenna Whitely wrote a very well respected book titled “Stolen Valor” about people who have never served in the military and people who have served that grossly misrepresented their military service. I own and have read the book a few times and I knew one character in the book who is now deceased who by all appearances was a nice guy and who held a responsible position on the board at a Veteran’s Memorial. He claimed to be with the CIA in Vietnam during a certain period of time, but a record search determined that the individual had gotten ticketed for speeding in Illinois and had gotten married when he was supposedly in Vietnam. This guy is not alone as Senator Richard Bluementhal and actor Brian Dennehy claimed Vietnam service when neither of them set foot in the country.
On March 9, 2020, my girlfriend and I attended a presentation on Ft. Myers Beach, FL together with thirty other people to listen to co-authors Janet Sailian and Martin G. LeBlanc discuss their book about Martin’s exploits during an alleged twenty year military career from 1966-86. The book is titled “Ghost Warrior the real Martin Blank”.
The reason we attended was because I suspected from what I had read in two local newspapers, the Ft. Myers Beach Observer and the Island Sandpaper, that “something was not right about this guy”. He claimed to have been captured, bound and tortured by the Khmer Rouge but I could not locate his name in any U.S, Government websites purportedly updated to name every civilian or military person who had ever been held in captivity. I was also puzzled that there was no reference to this “prisoner“ status in the authors’ book summary on www.amazon.com and I found that to be very strange.
I also called the eastern representative of the National League of Families of those Missing in Action or Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia and asked them if they could locate information on Martin G. LeBlanc and they couldn’t find anything about him except that he coauthored a book titled “Ghost Warrior”. This further fueled my suspicion.
Besides claiming he was a Prisoner of War, Martin LeBlanc and Ms. Janet Sailian said in Ghost Warrior Facebook posts (now deleted) that Martin held airborne status, was an Army Ranger, Special Forces Green Beret, a Navy Seal, a sniper and an “unauthorized“ pilot. Martin also claimed he had received a Purple Heart with numerous clusters suggesting he had been wounded several times and a Combat Infantry Badge with a cluster, a Bronze Star and several other military awards.
Ms. Sailian, who shares the same address with Martin LeBlanc, began the presentation at the Estero Island Historical Society and claimed she had checked out Martin’s documentation before agreeing to coauthor the book. She proudly told the attendees she had done her due diligence and proclaimed “Martin was the real deal”. She read from the book and one story seemed to me to be more unbelievable than the next. After forty-five minutes, of reading from the book or talking about it, Ms. Sailian asked if there were any questions. Unbeknownst to the attendees, there were five former Green Berets in the audience and in a rapid fire manner they began questioning Ms. Sailian who attempted unconvincingly to answer them. Getting increasingly flustered, she asked Martin who was in the back of the room attempting to sell copies of his book if he would come to the podium. On his way to the front of the room, Ms. Sailian asked Martin if he had anything to add and he quietly said “no”. I believe as Martin made his way to the podium that he knew from the previous questions directed to Ms. Sailian, that he was about to be “publicly” taken down.
The retired, but still very energetic Green Beret members, some apparently affiliated with the Guardians of the Green Beret, www.guardiansofthegreenberet.com, asked Martin with intense tones several questions and his pat response was “my records are sealed”. He was told by these representatives that they had searched their Green Beret records and had spoken to several former Green Beret members and “nobody had ever heard of him”. They said to Martin “you don’t pass the smell test” and instead of defending himself as any legitimate Green Beret member would have, he replied “he was sorry about that”. When asked to name a single name of a Green Beret member that he had served with over an alleged twenty year period, he said “I’d have to check my records”. The audience was very tense and uncomfortable but engaged at what we were witnessing which was a classic takedown of a fraud.
Ms. Sailian was getting increasingly more uncomfortable and wanted to ask questions from non-Green Beret members and she directed her attention to me because my hand was raised. I asked Martin how long he had been captured, bound and tortured by the Khmer Rouge and he replied ”36 hours“. I asked how he had escaped from the heavily guarded camp and he replied “with the help of two Montagnards”. I asked if they had “shot their way out of the heavily armed camp” and he said “no”. He asked if “that was acceptable“ and I said “no“.
I said “no” because I had read a book about Deiter Dengler’s escape from a prison camp in a very intense story titled “Escape from Laos”. The book mentioned in great detail a fellow prisoner named Gene DeBruin from Kaukauna, WI and I had corresponded and interacted with Gene’s brother Jerry DeBruin numerous times. There was also an independent film made about this event called “Fly Dieter Fly” which I own and a full length Hollywood movie called “Rescue Dawn”. Martin LeBlanc mistakenly thought I would be appeased with his ten second response. I have extensive experience related to the POW/MIA issue over a several year period and Martin LeBlanc’s BS response was just that utter B.S.
The questioning continued until Ms. Sailian stated she and Martin would meet privately with the Green Beret members and the hour long fiasco came to a close. That did not stop the former Green Beret members from circulating throughout the crowd and telling Ms. Sailian and anyone who would listen that they had records proving Martin G. LeBlanc was a total fraud.
The Guardians of the Green Beret (GOTGB) secured Martin LeBlanc’s military records under a Freedom of Information Act request and they determined Mr. LeBlanc had served in the U.S. Army at Ft. Benning, GA and Ft. Bliss, TX and he had been a truck driver for a three year period. They also established that he had never served overseas, had never been wounded and had never been held as a prisoner. Additionally, he had never been Airborne or an Army Ranger, or a Special Forces Green Beret or a Navy Seal. His complete record and his accounts in the book are all fictional. Finally, if you go to the website at the link above, you can watch and listen to a video of this event. You will also discover that he has not been installed in their “Hall of Heroes”, but he is prominently displayed in their “Hall of Zeroes”. You can get many more details about his false claims and you will also learn there are numerous other frauds listed along side this guy.
A recent search on Amazon revealed the book authored by Ms. Sailian and Martin G. LeBlanc has fifty-five one star reviews and one five star review for fiction. Every review named Martin LeBlanc as a fraud.
I started this post talking about the well researched book “Stolen Valor” and I can guarantee the readers of this blog that I have never in my life come across anyone as egregious of a liar about his military service as Martin G. LeBlanc. And what I’ve recited here is only the tip of the iceberg with respect to the outrageous fraudulent claims made by this unscrupulous individual in numerous Ghost Warrior Facebook posts (now removed but secured by the GOTGB) and newspaper articles. As a combat Vietnam veteran, I resent people like this guy who had fraudulently attempted to capture the glory we were denied.
For so many years, being a Vietnam veteran was a curse and then in recent years the public has been able to separate the very unpopular war from those who served in Vietnam and we have received more favorable treatment. When this started occurring, a segment of the population who never served, or who served stateside, began telling friends and acquaintances about their “heroism“ in Vietnam. One lie built upon another and soon pictures started appearing of these individuals in military uniforms and some started getting recognition in military fraternal organizations and civilian circles. This illicit activity spread to several other imposters until legitimate veterans began questioning these stories and the Stolen Valor Act was implemented In 2013 but later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court determined that “telling stories” constituted free speech.
Several states have stolen valor laws and in Florida it is a Class Three Felony to misrepresent military service for charitable reasons or for material gain. In my mind, selling books on Facebook and gatherings like we attended, and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble represents material gain. Whether he or she will be prosecuted is undetermined as they undeservingly caught a break when the Coronavirus broke and justifiably dominated the news cycle.
The authors stated they spent seven years writing and publishing their book and having written a book myself “Vietnam: There and Back - A Combat Medic’s Chronicle“, I can assure you it is a tremendous amount of work together with numerous expenditures. However, their book will deservedly “die on the vine” and they will lose the time and money devoted to this fraudulent activity and possibly face prosecution. More damaging for Martin G. LeBlanc is he is nearing the end of his life and everyone who knows him personally, or knows who he is, or reads about him, will understand his entire life of 70 plus years has been built on a lengthy series of lies. And to me, that is very sad.
In keeping with my blog theme “Viewing the War through Music“, I wrote a song called “Living a Lie” and it is about guys like Martin G. LeBlanc. It can be heard at www.soundcloud.com/Jim-Purtell/living-a-lie