Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"Y is for You--What Would YOU Have Done?"
What I am about to post is true. It happened.

Let’s go back a number of decades, back to when I first entered the service. I had a friend in boot camp – let’s call him “Ed” because that wasn’t his name – and we hung out a lot, talking about what we might do in the future.
One day, after we had finished boot camp, he confessed something to me. He was very excited about it. He knew it should be kept secret, but he just had to tell someone and he felt he could trust me.
It was a plan Ed had been working on for quite a while. Well before he joined the Navy he had been visiting a small city located in the central part of our state. What was unusual about these visits is that he had managed to obtain a uniform of a lieutenant-commander, complete with service and combat ribbons, and he illegally wore this when he paid the visits.

In that community there weren’t many military types and very few Navy personnel – and no shore patrol. A Lieutenant-Commander, especially one with a couple of rows of ribbons, was welcomed everywhere. He had visited some local church affairs and other such functions and had managed to meet a beautiful girl.
Quite unbelievably, after a number of dates he had proposed and the girl, undoubtedly a bit dazzled by this remarkable young naval officer, had accepted. Her folks had met him and had welcomed him enthusiastically into the family. Now that Ed was out of boot camp, he was actually going to go up in his fake uniform and marry her.
He had managed to convince everyone there that his folks were in Africa doing some sort of relief work, so they wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding.
It all seemed weird and unreal. I wondered what I should do.
A: Should I call this family on the phone (I knew their name so I thought I could get in touch with them) and tell them that their future son-in-law was no heroic naval commander but an ordinary sailor of the lowest rank?
Or B: Should I notify the military authorities that there’s a guy illegally roving about that area in a fake lieutenant-commander’s uniform?
Or C: Should I just ignore it all and try to forget about it?
After all, the marriage might turn out well; the couple might be happy together, even after it came out that his officer’s commission, and his ribbons, were phony, but that seemed highly unlikely.
Ed and I received our assignments and we went off in different directions so I heard no more from him. As far as I know, the wedding took place on schedule; I have no idea how it turned out.
But this is really about you. What’s your opinion? What would you have done in such a situation?


Derrick said...

I would have tried to talk him out of continuing in that way and point out that he'd be bound to be found out one way or another, by the authorities or her family. And if that failed I might have whispered in someone's ear!

Fred Miller said...

It depends on the guy's mental condition. As a fiction writer, I have met other writers who cannot stop lying once they start. It's a useful affliction for a fiction writer, but not so good if you're about to make a family. If the guy was pathological, I'd step in quietly. But if he knew what he was doing and was just being a jerk, I'd tell the girl to rip off his shoulder boards in front of the congregation.

Sylvia K said...

I have no idea what I would do -- probably the same as you -- nothing! Brassy kid he was, hope all went well for him. Fun post for the Y day! Hope you have a great week!


Mara said...

You don't ask difficult questions do you? I don't know what I would have done, but I hope I might have tried to persuade 'Ed' to come clean. Failing that? Hm. I honestly don't know. It's a bit like the 'I know he's cheating on his wife, do I tell?' isn't it?

By the way, I don't anyone who cheats on his wife.

Amy said...

I think I would have filed it under "none of my business." That being said, if someone is in imminent danger, physically or emotionally, then I would have chosen to get involved. Your story points to the importance or unimportance of rank. Ed's wife and his family to be were influenced by the appearance of success. Don't you wish you knew the outcome?

Roger Owen Green said...

I would have threatened to rat him out to both the military and the woman if he didn't stop the impersonation, then, if necessary, do it. I fear that someone with such mock authority could use it for even more ill-advised behavior.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

photowannabe said...

Not sure what I would have done either. I think I would have tried to appeal to his conscience and tell him how a relationship built on lies can only go one way and for him to consider how his "wife" will feel when she does find out. (She will) Trust will be gone and a marriage without trust isn't a marriage.

Hildred and Charles said...

I had to ponder your question so I brought it to Charles (a Lancaster pilot during the war) and a younger military friend while we had coffee, - they were both adamant, their answers coming almost before I had finished the story, - they would both have turned him in.

Mar said...

Not a good start for a marriage...but then again, it's none of my business. I hope it turned out good, I would have stayed out of it (unless I had known the bride...)

ABC Wed: Y

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my goodness. I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have tried to talk him into telling the truth. I don't know though. Wow. I hope that they had a happy life together.

Tumblewords: said...

A true dilemma. I'd have probably bitten my tongue and butted out. And then regretted it for years. :)

Gayle said...

I would have strongly suggested he give up the ruse and gone to the military authorities if he didn't. How sad he needed to elevate himself in that way to feel important. I'm sure the wife has left him by now, unless she was impressed only by his status. In that case, they were a matched pair!

ChrisJ said...

As his friend I would have tried to talk him out of it and persuade him what a horrible basis this was for his marriage. Do you really think it was true? If so, I would be inclined to say he was a jerk. What he was doing was illegal and immoral, totally unfair and then he tried to drag you into it. Not much of a friend to anyone. I can't go with"it's none of my business when other people are going to be hurt.

Cheryl said...

Yep, this falls into the category of none of my business. Still, I wonder how it turned out.

Pat said...

I'm with Derrick - although we haven't been introduced:)

mrsnesbitt said...

Yes, I agree with Pat and sit with Derrick!
A fascinating contribution for ABC Wednesday where it is always an intriguing day in blogland!

Thanks for contributing.
Denise - on behalf of ABC Team

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: This is a case of The Officer Was No Gentleman. He should swiftly "fess up" and clear up "the mess". He could always have a role-playing wedding if that's what they are "into". Funny Berowne! HaHa!

Sweetums5 said...

Stopping by from ABC Wed. Interesting story. If I were the girl, I wouldn't want to marry a liar and a fraud. If I had been in your place, I'd try to talk some sense into "Ed" for his sake, the girl's and her family's. If he doesn't listen, then I'd try to make him understand where I'm coming from and do either A or B.

Tattered and Lost said...

No doubt in my mind as the daughter of a Naval aviator. I'd have turned him in so fast his head wouldn't have timed to turn. Court Marshall offense. Disgrace to those who wear the uniform with pride. And due to his lack of character a detriment to those he served with.

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