A former Holly Springs police officer injured when a train hit a parade float carrying decorated military veterans and their families is refuting allegations that he hadn’t earned the right to be there.
Army veteran Shane Ladner, whose wife lost her leg in the November accident in Midland, Texas, told organizers of the event that he was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the invasion of Panama in 1989 — a claim that is now being challenged.
Four veterans were killed during the Hunt for Heroes weekend of events, which included an all-expenses paid whitetail deer hunt for the veterans.
Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said Tuesday he was aware of “the allegations of false documents against Shane Ladner related to his military service.” The comments came in a statement announcing that the Army veteran was no longer employed by his department.
Ladner was unable to return to work since the accident because of his injuries and was replaced effective April 5, Ball said.
Ball met Tuesday with Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace, who told the AJC she has requested that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office launch an investigation into allegations that Ladner lied about his war record.
Wallace said it’s too early to tell what laws, if any, may have been broken.
Ladner, speaking through his attorney, Kevin Glasheen, insists he is not lying about his record but offered a revised version of his initial account of his military service.
“Shane was stationed in Honduras at the time he was wounded during a grenade attack while on patrol doing drug interdiction tactics in Central America,” Glasheen said in a statement. “Shane was instructed to say that he suffered his wounds during Operation Just Cause in Panama rather than when and where the events actually occurred because of the sensitive nature of the military’s involvement in drug interdiction in that region.”
That discrepancy led to the questions about the Purple Heart, Glasheen said. Records from the National Archives in St. Louis “are apparently incomplete,” said the attorney, who supplied the AJC with a copy of Ladner’s certificate of release from active duty that lists a Purple Heart among the former military police officer’s citations.
“People should withhold judgment until all the records are available,” Glasheen told the AJC. He has requested Ladner’s service records from Fort Benning and medical information from the hospital where he was allegedly treated following the grenade attack.
An Army veteran who runs a website that investigates false military record claims said Ladner’s story doesn’t add up.
“He’s hoping this will all blow over,” said retired Sergeant First Class Jonn Lilyea. “There are no records at Fort Benning that aren’t in St. Louis.”
He also doubted a military police officer just a few months out of high school would be deployed on such a delicate operation.
“That’s not believable at all,” he said. “Those type of operations were handled by infantrymen, not MP’s (military police).”
Glasheen said his client is anxious to clear his name. He said his client is being victimized by someone with an ax to grind.
“It’s a personal, family thing,” Glasheen said, without elaborating. “There’s been a number of false allegations made against Shane.”