Update (19AUG2015): According to members of Theodore Smart’s unit he is an actual soldier. He appears to be faking because “he really is that ate up.” One member stated that they were “pretty sure” that he is only a Private First Class even though he was wearing specialist rank.
A person identifying himself as Sgt. First Class Lavar McDowell started recording a video on his cellphone while waiting to board a flight in Hagerstown, MD when he spotted a man in uniform, who appears to be pretending to be a soldier.
The video footage, which he uploaded on YouTube, begins with McDowell telling the other man that he is impersonating a soldier.
The argument lasts for about 15-minutes, but only a portion of it is caught on camera. As things start to escalate, you can hear the anger in McDowell’s voice as he says, “Let me see your orders, I’m a senior non-commissioned officer in the United States Army…. I can produce my CAC card.”
During the confrontation, the man in uniform tries to prove his status as a soldier by producing documents from his bag which appeared to be from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he apparently attended basic training in 2011. McDowell doesn’t’ buy it.
He says, “Maybe you went to basic training but when I was a specialist you wouldn’t find me wearing my uniform all chopped up like that.”
“You’re misrepresenting my Army,” he says.
The man tries to explain why he could be traveling in uniform on a Sunday by saying reserves travel in uniform on drill weekend. When asked again why he is traveling to Tampa, the man tells McDowell, “You don’t need to know.”
When the man says “I can show you my dog tags,” McDowell tells him he has no interest and that if he can’t produce his CAC, or common access card, then he is a fraud. The man stated he lost his wallet, so didn’t have his CAC card but later pulled out a wallet to show his driver’s license. In every branch of the Military a CAC card in a required part of a uniform. It can be a serious issue if a service member loses their CAC card.
McDowell said there were lots of things that looked off about the way this man presented himself and made him look suspicious. “First, his Specialist rank was upside down, his hair unkempt, beard ‘out of reg,’ white socks, boot laces hanging, American flag in the wrong spot on his right shoulder.”
It was clear he wasn’t on leave, or on official business, he said.
The man claimed he was a “91A in 48th CASH at Fort Meade.” He stated he was wearing the uniform to get his bags for free.
After TSA officials approached the men for causing a scene, McDowell says he was accused of harassing a “soldier” and got detained. When a sheriff’s deputy – who is also a veteran—was called to the scene, he agreed the guy appeared fake, according to McDowell. The deputy advised him to just “let it go” because it wasn’t worth getting kicked off the flight.
After landing in Tampa, McDowell says the man provoked him and they had another brief confrontation. During that confrontation, he admitted he wanted to get his bags checked for free. McDowell also said he could find no record of the supposed soldier in the AKO (Army Knowledge Online) white pages.
The initial video footage ended with McDowell telling the man, “I’m going to report you… it’s illegal.”
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