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Fake Vietnam veteran teacher charged over war medal fraud

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TEACHER has been charged with pretending to be a returned serviceman and falsely wearing the Purple Heart and other US medals at a pre-Anzac Day school assembly.

Graeme Arthur “Gosh” O’Shannessy, 63, of Theodore, in central west Queensland, appeared in Biloela Magistrates Court yesterday charged with two Defence Act offences. The Theodore State School teacher is charged with falsely representing himself as a returned soldier, sailor or airman and improper use of service decorations. O’Shannessy, who has taught in Queensland since 2008, also is charged with unlawful possession of weapons. It will be alleged that, on April 22, O’Shannessy addressed a school assembly of more than 100 students, teachers and parents about the seven medals he wore.

It is alleged the medals were the Purple Heart, Defence Joint Service Achievement Medal, US Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and Army Distinguished Service Cross. The Purple Heart is a US medal awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the US military and the Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest US Army award. It is believed police investigated after a complaint from military impostors watchdog website, ANZMI, which had been contacted by someone at the assembly.

Police will allege that O’Shannessy was in the Royal Australian Navy from 1971 to 1974 and never saw active service in Vietnam or anywhere else overseas. Several medals were seized when Biloela police raided O’Shannessy’s house on August 2. The Defence Act charges carry a maximum penalty of $3300 fine or six months’ imprisonment or both. O’Shannessy, a member of Theodore RSL subbranch, will reappear in court in December.

Police believe O’Shannessy spent his time in the Navy near Nowra, on the south coast of NSW and never served overseas. In August, Gold Coast man John Anthony Hines, 69, was fined $500 and put on a two-year bond with a year’s probation for pretending to be a Vietnam veteran on Anzac Day.

Source and read more: www.theaustralian.com.au

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