For those of you who missed it, Monday night was a big one for country musician and war veteran Timothy Michael Poe. As a contestant on NBC's latest season of "America's Got Talent," the former Army sergeant won over both the crowd and the judges as he related the story of his time in Afghanistan before singing a heartfelt rendition of Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
Poe claimed that he had been severely injured during his deployment when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded next to him. Fighting his way through tears and a broken stutter that he said was a product of the brain injury he received from the blast, Poe expressed gratitude for being able to come home to his children.
Now, much of Poe's story is being called into question. The military has no record of the incident or the kinds of injuries that he describes. Soldiers who were deployed with Poe have come forward and disputed major parts of his account. Even though it's only been five days since the controversy emerged, he may have already been found guilty in the court of public opinion. Many in the military community are outraged over the alleged fabrication.
Our friends at the You Served blog were able to procure the first interview with Tim Poe after the controversy erupted on Tuesday. In the radio show, Poe spoke at length with well-known milblogger C.J. Grisham, defending his story and addressing accusations being made against him by different news outlets, in particular AGTNews.com.
The Minnesota National Guard has come forward to say that they have no record of Poe's combat injuries from a 2009 deployment to Afghanistan. Which, to be fair, isn't all that unusual. The military is notorious for misplacing medical records, as any veteran who's had to deal with the VA can tell you.
The problem though is not just a lack of proof, but the fact that other veterans have come forward to actively challenge his version of the events. Joshua Hansen, who Poe confirmed was his squad leader in Afghanistan, denies that Poe was ever even close to enemy contact. Others who say they were in Poe's unit are also disputing his claim that he was injured in combat.
Perhaps the most incriminating piece of evidence against him is the photo he submitted to "America's Got Talent," which turned out to be of another soldier, Staff Sgt. Norman Bone. Poe has said that it was an honest mistake, claiming he accidentally sent the wrong picture from his computer.
So far, Poe has maintained that his story is true. It is currently unknown if he will be allowed to continue in the competition, or perhaps even prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act if his claims are confirmed to be false.