The claims of a dedicated member of the Occupy Buffalo movement that he saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are not supported by Army records.
Christopher M. Simmance has told several media outlets, including The Buffalo News, that he served as many as three tours of duty in those war zones and that he was severely injured in Afghanistan.
Service records obtained from the Army, however, show he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., for three years and he left the active-duty Army in January 2001 -- before the 9/11 terror attacks.
Simmance insists his Army records are incomplete. He told The News he stands by his claims of seeing combat.
"Everything I've told you is completely true; I've got nothing to hide," Simmance said in one of three interviews.
People close to Simmance told The News they initially believed his claims of wartime deployments but they grew disenchanted when they discovered he was exaggerating his military service.
"I cannot confirm any of what he said," Denise Simmance, his mother, told The News.
Simmance has been interviewed numerous times by local media outlets since join ing the Occupy Buffalo movement, where he has been a constant presence since the protesters began camping out in front of City Hall early last month.
* In an Oct. 23 interview with The News, Simmance identified himself as a former staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Special Forces who was wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade while serving in Afghanistan.
* Eleven days earlier, his photo accompanied a News article about Occupy Buffalo, after Simmance told a staff photographer he was a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
* And an Oct. 11 story on Channel 4's website refers to Simmance as an "Army Special Services" sergeant. Simmance told the TV station he saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza and he claimed he only has 10 years to live because of his injuries.
* Simmance was interviewed in The News for the first time in February 2008. He said then that he saw combat while serving with an international peacekeeping force in the Middle East in 2001, with no reference to Afghanistan or Iraq.
* In November 2008, in another News article, Simmance said he was taking up to four prescription drugs a day, and had seen four or five psychiatrists for his post-traumatic stress disorder. ...