Military record of singing soldier raises questions

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 6, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 7 at 2:13 PM

We introduced you to Sgt. Timothy Poe last week — a wounded warrior back from the battlefield. He's also stolen hearts across America with his singing abilities.

But the Army National Guard claims it has no record of injuries Poe claims to have suffered.

On Thursday, TMZ reported that a photo supplied by Poe purportedly showing him in combat is actually the image of another soldier.

Poe, 35, released to WFAA medical documents he says prove he was injured in the line of duty.

"I spent 14 years in the military," Poe said to judges of the NBC show "America's Got Talent." "My career was ended in 2009. I got hit by a grenade in Afghanistan. It broke my back and gave me brain injuries. That's why I stutter a little bit," Poe said on the broadcast.

He then sang an impressive version of Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes."

The judges all loved Poe's performance. Howard Stern said he didn't even know what to say to a hero like Poe.

What Poe said during that broadcast is similar to what he told News 8 in an interview broadcast last week. We aired a story about a golf tournament for disabled veterans, and Poe was the focus.

"The RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] hit me and folded me in half backwards," he said, describing that same attack in Afghanistan. But he also talked of a firefight he survived in Iraq four years earlier.

"In 2005, I was in Iraq and my truck got hit by an IED [improvised explosive device]," he said. "My brain got scrambled."

But after Poe's appearance on national TV, his buddies from the Army began saying his story simply wasn't true.

The Minnesota National Guard, where Poe served as a supply specialist from 2002 to 2011, said it has no record of those injuries. The Guard says it has a record of Poe's deployment to Kosovo in 2007 and 2008 and another to Afghanistan in 2009.

There's no mention of Iraq.

"Sgt. Poe's official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as he reports," said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard.

Olson also said there is no "local record of Sgt. Poe receiving combat-related injuries, nor is there any official Army record of such in the Army's medical systems of record."

The documents they provided say Poe was injured in a blast in July 2009, and that he retired based on injuries sustained in the line of duty. They included the "DD214," which is the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It characterizes Poe's service as "honorable," says he was separated due to retirement based on permanent disability.

Other documents indicate the retirement is based on disability from injury received in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict.

But Wednesday evening, Poe and his fiancee e-mailed six pages of partial medical records to WFAA which, they say, prove the Army is wrong.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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