Former VFW commander whose face is on bus for Purple Heart recipients lied about military record

Ed Cameron got kicked out of basic training

LAKE WALES, Fla. - Polk County officials are finalizing plans to remove the image of a man from one of its buses dedicated to Purple Heart recipients.

Officials found out the man never earned a Purple Heart.

Ed Cameron was the commander of the VFW Post in Lake Wales. For years he convinced everyone around him that he served in the Marines for 30 years and earned the Purple Heart.

The only problem is official documents show Cameron got kicked out of basic training after three short months.

"It's a slap in our face for the people who did serve in Vietnam or any war," said Gerald Menard, the current commander of the VFW Post in Winter Haven.

Menard said Cameron left the VFW post when other veterans got suspicious of his story. They believe he stole his dead father's Purple Heart so he had something to show for it.

"If that doesn't constitute fraud, I don't know what does," said Eugene Futlz, Lake Wales mayor and Vietnam vet. "It really just upsets me to hear that somebody is fraudulently out there claiming to be somebody that they're not. And taking the attention off the people deserve that attention."

Futlz said Cameron moved out of the area and now lives in Arizona.

His face remains on a Polk Transit bus dedicated to Purple Heart recipients, but county officials said they already found a real veteran to replace Cameron's picture.

"When I got the news, I was like, 'This can't be!'" said Melony Bell, county commissioner. "We need to go back and look at the policy and make sure we have a little stricter policy in force before we just take names."

Bell said even if they did a more through background check, they believe Cameron just used his father's Social Security number, so they might not have caught the error.

The real veterans who did fight for this country want more than just Cameron's face removed.

"We're going to press charges, and hopefully he will go to jail," Menard said.

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