A Vietnam veteran was confronted at the Charlotte airport last Saturday by a fellow brother-in-arms who thought the man was a phony.
Former Marine Jack Hughes, 66, said he was completely caught off guard by the encounter.
“All of a sudden he jumps up and he’s got a camera in my face screaming ‘your medals are crooked. You’re a fake. You’re not a marine,'” Hughes told WBTV. “He kept screaming at me, telling me I was nothing, that everything I had was fake. I was a fake and phony.”
Hughes, who lives in Gastonia, was returning from St. Louis where he participated in a Veterans Day program at his grand daughter’s school. He was dressed in a suit jacket, with his military medals and ribbons proudly on display, including his purple heart.
The man with the camera was with a group of friends, and one of them “grabbed me by my jacket and told me ‘I’m an active duty Marine’ and he jerked it like that – jerked the buttons off of it.”
Hughes felt compelled to pull out his VA card and prove his military record.
“I took out my ID right then from the V.A and tried to show it to him,” Hughes said. “I said look at this. Look at my ID.Look at my V.A card. Look at what it says here.”
According to Hughes, the men eventually realized they had made a mistake. The apologized, but Hughes said it was rather insincere.
Police were called to the scene, but no one was arrested. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police told WBTV that Hughes wasn’t physically injured and none of his ribbons were missing and that the only way to press charges would be for Hughes to obtain a warrant.
Meanwhile, Hughes is emotionally distraught at the way he was treated.
“All the veterans – they need support. They don’t need these gangsters going out trying to hurt people,” he said. “If there’s something wrong, a veteran should help a vet.”
Hughes added, “If my medals were a little crooked he should have come up to me and said hey buddy, can I help you straighten these out.”