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Parade leader dropped after questions

OAK PARK, Ill., July 5 (UPI) -- An Oak Park, Ill., man who was chosen to lead the village's Fourth of July parade was sacked after questions arose about his background.

John Dietz, 72, was named grand marshal of the parade after sharing his story with former Oak Park resident Marianne Trifone, who shared the story with the Community Relations Commission subcommittee in charge of the parade, The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

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The subcommittee named Dietz grand marshal of the parade after hearing his account of his life, which includes receiving three purple hearts during his time in the Marines, playing football for the University of Michigan, losing two brothers in the Vietnam War and losing his wife and infant daughter in a house fire while he was deployed in Vietnam.

Doug Sterner, an Army veteran and military historian from Pueblo, Colo., said he and other experts found a number of discrepancies in Dietz's story. He said learning later Dietz claimed to have served under the name Diaz only caused more contradictions to come to light.

"Our approach is to trust but verify," Sterner said. "It's a sad situation that when we see veterans or someone who appears to be a veteran, that there's a sense of suspicion about them."

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