NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE
A North Texas soldier who appeared on a reality TV show told WFAA Friday he's sorry for embellishing stories about his past.
Crying through the entire interview, Sgt. Timothy Poe apologized, but said he did not lie.
"I mean, as far as everything I said, I believe it wholeheartedly myself," he said. "But I feel like I'm going crazy."
He's told his stories of heroism many times, in many ways, to many people.
"In 2005 I was in Iraq," he told WFAA during an interview in May. "My truck got hit by an IED [improvised explosive device]. I got out in the firefight and I took a bullet in the leg."
He also said he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2009. He said his "brain got scrambled," and that's why he stutters.
Poe told a national television audience he was hit by a grenade in Afghanistan when he appeared Monday on NBC's "America's Got Talent," singing an impressive version of Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
Then, those who know Poe and those who served with him started unraveling his story.
The Army said it has no record of Poe being injured in Afghanistan, and no record of him being deployed to Iraq.
"I really don't know right now what's reality and what's not reality," said a tearful Poe his fiancee Carrie Morris by his side.
"I don't know," he answered when asked if he had been to Iraq. "I'm thinking, why have I for the last, over two years, believed things have happened to me and they might not have?"
"I don't feel like I've lied," he added. "That's what's driving me crazy, because I truly thought things have happened to me."
While the Army has no record of an injury in Afghanistan, Poe said he believes while he was there he sustained some sort of trauma to his brain. That's what he says is to blame for his confusion.
But Donna Cranston blames Poe.
"I believe he's a liar, and I hate to say that," said the founder of the non-profit Defenders of Freedom. "I know we're not supposed to call people liars, but I believe he's a liar."
Defenders of Freedom gives financial assistance to wounded troops and injured troops, often as they transition out of military life.
Defenders of Freedom paid Poe's bills for a couple of months, and Cranston said she also gave him gas and restaurant gift cards.
"I stand beside the help I gave him," she said, but Cranston is angry.
"I'm not angry for me, but angry that he would slap the brothers and sisters that he served alongside in the face like he has done," she said.
Cranston also gave WFAA a copy of a phone interview she said she did with Poe in November. He did not stutter at that time.
"I want to say, Donna I am so very sorry," Poe said. "I want to say to her that I truly, in my own mind, personally believed everything I've been saying."
Poe did serve this country for nine years, and has scars on his back from a training accident in 2005 that prove that service.
What he can't prove are all the other stories.
"Yeah, I can," Poe answered when asked if he could understand why people would believe he is embellishing the truth. "But it's the truth that I know; it's the truth that I truly think is real."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I really am sorry."
Poe said he knows he needs help. He's already called the VA to make an appointment.