History | August 24, 2017 9:37 am

World War II Veteran Hailed As a D-Day Hero Admits to Being a Fraud

The 96-year-old lied about being in Normandy.

A 96-year-old World War II veteran who has been hailed as an American D-Day war hero has admitted that he lied about his location, reports the New York Post. George G. Klein was said to have survived a battle against the Germans on the cliffs of Normandy, but he recently admitted that he was actually in northern Ireland at the time.

Klein was honored as one of the 90 surviving members of the elite 2nd Ranger Battalion during the 73rd anniversary of the Normandy battle at a ceremony there last month. The battalion fought the Germans on the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on June 6, 1944.

“His good humor and smiles were not feigned: George expressed his joy of returning to Normandy for the second time and meeting the Normans, explaining: ‘I am not a hero. The real heroes are those who have lost life here,’” said Marc Laurenceau, who runs D-Day Overlord, a French organization dedicated to the Battle of Normandy, according to the Post.

His trip cost more than $5,000 and was arranged by the D-Day Overlord volunteers and paid for by “dozens of donors” reports the Post.

Over the past twenty years, Klein has claimed to have been one of the officers within F Company of 2nd Ranger Battalion. He has recounted three days he spent fighting the German soldiers and scaling 100-foot cliffs, writes the Post. He explained his absence from the list of 225 Rangers by claiming to be a “supernumerary” lieutenant who replaced a platoon leader after they were unable to continue fighting. He said he was injured on June 6, 1944, by a German bayonet, and he was evacuated to England on June 8, 1944.

But now, Klein is admitting that he was not among the 2nd Ranger Battalion to attack the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc, and was instead in northern Ireland with the B battery of his artillery regiment, the 46th Field Artillery Battalion, 5th Infantry Division.

Laurenceau said that several historians made this discovery, including Marty Morgan and Gary Sterne, who owns a museum dedicated to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.

“His story had every reason to be plausible: with a (real) experience in the Rangers’ unit, the artilleryman had [broken] his ankle during a climbing training during the year 1943 and had to give up any hope of remaining in this elite unit,” Laurenceau said according to the Post. “Back in his artillery regiment, he accepts this failure with difficulty.”

Laurenceau told the Post that Klein should not be “ashamed of his real contribution.” Klein was deployed from July 1944 to July 1945 with the 46th Field Artillery Battalion and was seriously wounded during combat in the Moselle region of France in November 1944.

Klein was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals by the United States.

“Trapped into a lie of that shaped him in the eyes of his entourage and from which he could no longer escape, he finally resolved to tell the truth to his family, his relatives and the organizations that supported him for several years,” Laurenceau said, according to the Post.

Laurenceau said that he is devastated, because he believed Klein’s story, and a lot of effort went into getting him to Normandy.

Klein is not the first person to lie about where they were during the Battle of Normandy. Laurenceau said that two other US soldiers claimed they participated in the Battle of Normandy as airborne troops but were later discovered to have lied.