Minn. woman faked year of Army service

April 17, 2011 at 1:48 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, April 17 (UPI) -- A Minnesota woman whose return from Afghanistan was celebrated by her community recently never even served in the military, officials say.

Elizabeth McKenzie, 20, was written up in the local paper as a hero, and honored by the Ojibwe Honor Guard in Leech Lake with a blanket and feather, acknowledging her as a woman warrior.

Donning an Army uniform, she spoke recently about the perils of war during a welcome home visit to a Cass Lake high school, where she graduated in 2009, and about the injury she sustained.

She led a flag procession through the school's gym.

But McKenzie, according to a story in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis Sunday, made it all up.

She's being charged with impersonating an officer.

"A lot of people feel bad, but in one way they can't blame themselves for having hope in somebody," Zeb Hemsworth, the police chief who investigated the case, told the paper. "Because having hope in somebody is a good thing."

Last year, McKenzie attended a deployment ceremony at a local American Legion hall a year ago, to send her on her way.

But the situation came to light after a college recruiter at a school she attended when she was supposed to be overseas started digging into the matter.

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