WRAL Investigates

Onslow man charged with faking Vietnam claims, taking vet benefits

Posted October 8, 2010 9:08 a.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2010 12:13 p.m. EDT

— A man already charged with wearing the uniform and medals of a highly decorated Marine colonel faces new charges that he lied about Vietnam battle injuries and took more than $30,000 in veteran’s benefits.

A federal grand jury indicted Michael Delos Hamilton this week on an embezzlement charge connection with receiving more than $30,000 in disability payments in the past three years for service-related ailments.

Hamilton, 67, of Richlands, fraudulently said during a Veterans Affairs compensation medical exam last year that he saw repeated combat in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that resulted in him being “shot, stabbed, and blown up, and witnessed atrocities such as the dismemberment and decapitation of his best friend,” the indictment alleges.

Hamilton’s claim for service-connected compensation also included the false statements that he was extensively honored for his performance in battle by receiving two Navy Crosses, the second highest award for valor, according to the indictment. He also claimed to have earned three Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, and eight Purple Hearts.

Court records indicate Hamilton served nine months and 12 days on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, was transferred to the temporary disability retired list in 1962 and was discharged in July 1967.

His highest rank was private first class, and his only award was a Rifle Qualification Badge, according to court documents.

Hamilton does not have a listed telephone number and could not be reached by The Associated Press on Friday. The attorney who represented Hamilton on earlier charges of wearing a Marine officer’s uniform and rows of medals did not return a call to The AP.

The indictment also includes charges similar to those Hamilton already faced: that he wore a Marine colonel’s dress blue uniform and medals during a military recognition day ceremony in April in Jacksonville, which adjoins Camp Lejeune. It is a federal offense to claim or wear military decorations and carries punishment of up to one year in prison and a fine.

Hamilton pleaded guilty last year to altering a military identification card to represent himself as a three-star general. He paid $100 in fines and was sentenced to six months probation in a plea agreement.