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Supposed Army General, POW Exposed

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – A man who took part in the New Rochelle Veterans Day ceremonies claiming to be a retired Army general and POW lied about his military service, according to a number of sources.

Veterans groups are accusing Fermijon Marrero , who was honored by the City of New Rochelle and United Veterans Memorial and Patriotic Association during Veterans Day services last month, of lying about his rank and status as a prisoner of war.

An officer at the U.S. Army Cadet Corps headquarters sent The Daily New Rochelle a document -- called a DD 214 -- given to military personnel upon his or her retirement showing that Fermin Ernesto Marrero served in the Army Reserve from Dec. 23, 1975 to Feb. 8, 1976 and on active duty from Feb. 9, 1976, to Nov. 22, 1976  He left the service as a private.

Marrero told The Daily New Rochelle in November that he served on active duty from May 23, 1964, to Nov. 22, 1987, and in the Army Reserve from December 1987 until May 22, 2011. He also claimed that he was a prisoner of war from Dec. 15, 1966, until May 1968 and that he escaped to Laos and met up with the 12th Cavalry.

Pentagon officials with the Department of Defense confirmed that no one with the last name Marrero was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, nor was the 12th Cavalry ever in Laos during that conflict. A Department of Defense website , which lists all those missing in action or taken prisoner in the Vietnam War, does not show anyone with the last name Marrero.

Asked about the absence of his name from the list, Marrero declined comment but added that “the facts will come out.”

He did, however, address the general accusations against him.

“My response is they better get their facts straight,” Marrero said. “My name is not Fermin Ernesto Marrero. It’s Fermijon.”

Marrero said he has never had a middle name.

Marrero said he will take steps to defend himself and would gather facts and paperwork to discredit his accusers. He offered to fax his DD 214 to The Daily New Rochelle on Wednesday morning but had not sent it as of 3 p.m.

Questions have also been raised about the uniform Marrero wore to the Veterans Day services. A retired general would not wear a combat uniform to a public event but would instead put on a suit or a service dress, according to military sources.

Peter Parente, president of the UVMPA in New Rochelle, said he was introduced to Marrero by a lieutenant commander in the Navy and had no knowledge of Marrero other than the story told to him by the supposed general.

“I figured he was legit,” Parente said. “I don’t assume people are going to lie.”

Parente said that his organization does not do a background check in those situations, nor do they check people who join the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. Potential members must only show their DD 214, but Marrero did not have to do so for Veterans Day because he is not a member of any veterans’ organizations in New Rochelle.

Marrero said on Veterans Day that he planned to open a chapter of the U.S. Army Cadet Corps in New Rochelle. Parente said he told Marrero to bring his DD 214 with him to the Veterans Day service to sign up as a member of the American Legion so that he could receive their full support, but Marrero said he forgot to bring it.

With regard to Marrero’s alleged lies, Parente said that “we don’t tolerate anybody doing that.”

Vito Pinto of the Westchester County Veterans Service Agency said that he had no knowledge of Marrero. He did not fault Parente or the City of New Rochelle but expressed his feelings about Marrero’s alleged lies.

“I would be very disappointed that somebody masqueraded as a general if he was nowhere near it,” Pinto said. “That’s disturbing.”

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