CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Jack Hughes is a proud Marine, and Vietnam Vet who still bears the wounds from the war. The 66-year-old purple heart recipient said he had a face to face encounter at the airport in Charlotte that caught him off guard.
“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,'” an emotional 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.”
The Gastonia man said it happened Saturday, shortly after he and his wife had just landed. He went to St. Louis to take part in a Veterans Day program at their grand-daughter’s school.
Hughes said he was wearing his suit jacket with medals and ribbons. As he entered Concourse C, he said the man approached him with a camera, insisting that Hughes was an impostor.
Hughes said the man was with a group of friends, and one of the other men “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 said there were a lot of people around – still he felt alone.
“I expected this to happen back in the 60’s.”
He said the Vietnam War left him physically and emotionally wounded. It didn’t help that the servicemen back then came home to a less than welcoming return.
When this happened Saturday afternoon, Hughes said he flashed back and couldn’t figure out why he was being attacked.
Several organizations have people who try to identify and publicly shame fake military. Hughes doesn’t know if that’s what the men were trying to do.
He said he tried to prove his military duty.
“I took out my i-d right then from the V.A and tried to show it to him,” Hughes said. “I said look at this. Look at my i-d.Look at my V.A card. Look at what it says here.”
Police at the airport were called to the scene. No one was arrested – something Hughes is not happy about.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police told WBTV that Hughes wasn’t visibly hurt, and his ribbons were still intact on his jacket.
Police say because it was a misdemeanor assault and the officer didn’t see it, Hughes would have to obtain a warrant. Police said the officer tried to explain it to Hughes.
Hughes disputes being told about obtaining an warrant.
But, he’s more upset that the men, who claimed to be Marines themselves, tried to shame him publicly.
“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.
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.”
Hughes said the man, who did most of the yelling, eventually realized they made a mistake.
“He looked at me like God I’m such a fool. I told him I said you can shove it buddy. I said how many other people have you done this way.”
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