The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297 in Cornwall has had its first vice-president resign, amid allegations of — and his apology for — untrue claims of military service and successes.

Arthur Murray, a 14-year member of the Legion who was elected to the first vice-president position last June, handed in his resignation to president Linda Fisher.

“We knew nothing (about the misrepresentation), this was such a shock,” Fisher said Tuesday.

Stolen Valour Canada, an all-veteran, all-volunteer organization aiming to expose imposters posing as military personnel or veterans, levelled allegations against Murray, who was also the cadet liason. The organization has posted what it says is a written apology from Murray.

The story has been told on the U.S. website “This Ain’t Hell – But you can see it from here.”

The website said the story came to it from Stolen Valour Canada, when the organization was asked to comment upon photographic images of Murray, of Cornwall, attending Remembrance Day services in the city.

Stolen Valour Canada said among Murray’s claims was that he was an artilleryman in the Canadian Forces, was a qualified CF parachutist, served in the Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group, served with 2 RHCA in Cyprus and received the Canadian Peace Keeping Service and UNFICYP medals.

But, Stolen Valour Canada says, Murray did not complete Canadian Forces recruit training, had fewer than two months of regular force service, was not an artilleryman, never qualified as a CF parachutist, never served in E Bty (Para) 2 RCHA, was never a member of the Canadian Airborne Regiment Battle Group and never served in Cyprus.

“My first feeling when hearing about this was disbelief,” said Ron Racine, the Legion’s third vice-president and its membership chairman. “He (Murray) knows a lot of military information, so I was really in shock when I found out everything there (on the website) was true, I couldn’t believe it.”

Murray was a Legion member for 14 years, which made the news even more difficult to accept.

“It’s hard because it’s like a family here,” said Racine, confirming Murray has also turned in his membership.

Racine noted that Murray was accepted as a Legion member because “he had been in the military – he had proof of that. Because of that background, he could become a member. (But) we don’t ask for full military background.”

The issue is settled, as far as Fisher is concerned.

“For our part, we’ve resolved it because he’s no longer a member, he’s no longer first vice-president,” she said.

An apology from Murray, posted on the This Ain’t Hell blog, reads as follows:

“I am hereby offering my heartfelt apologies for my actions, and I realize that what I did was wrong, and can offer no real reason as to why I did it. I am prepared to suffer the consequences of my actions, and will plead guilty to any charges that are brought against me by the courts.

“The sins I have committed are grievous, and I most certainly did not mean to cause or bring harm to anyone, although I have done harm to myself with my actions.”

The site also reported that information from Stolen Valour Canada indicates Murray has surrendered the bogus medals and insignia to an SVC representative.

Stolen Valour Canada said it had conducted a thorough review of all available records including websites, newspaper articles, photographic images, regimental journals and tour groups, searchable data bases of medal recipients and extracts from military documents in Canada to determine the legitimacy of Murray’s claims.

The Criminal Code of Canada has Sec. 419 on the Unlawful Use of Military Uniforms or Certificates, a punishable offence on summary conviction.

Stolen Valour Canada says the organization’s actions reduces the number of posers, and perhaps makes individuals think twice before falsifying military service.

thambleton@postmedia.com

twitter.com/FreeholderTodd