SAS phony ignored warning

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
Yordan Militch
EVA BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
BUILDING HIMSELF UP: Yordan Militch admits he made a 'dumb mistake' claiming to be a former SAS soldier. He is a builder by trade.

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A builder masquerading as a former SAS soldier was warned by police three years ago to stop wearing medals he wasn't entitled to.

Yordan Militch was given a police caution in 2011 for fraudulently wearing war medals after telling high school students and Rotary members that he was a former SAS sniper.

But he carried on with his charade - until he was caught out while spinning the same yarns while addressing a Landmark Forum educational course in Hastings last year.

Little did he know that among his fellow customers on the course were a handful of off-duty police officers. One of them remembered Militch and told Hawke's Bay constable Mike Burne that he was "at it again".

Militch appeared in court this week and pleaded guilty to breaching the Military Decorations and Distinctive Badges Act 1918. He was convicted, fined $300 and ordered to pay $150 court costs.

Landmark Forum said yesterday it was aggrieved that Militch spun his web of lies while participating in one of its events.

Public relations director Deborah Beroset Miller made it clear Militch was not hired by Landmark to speak. "Yordan Militch is not in any way affiliated with the company, but rather was a customer at an event."

Militch told The Dominion Post after his conviction that he just got carried away. "I thought I was something I wasn't, and that was it."

He bought the medals on Trade Me and wore them as he told crowds how he served in Afghanistan and East Timor, and was deployed as a sniper.

He claimed he was awarded two medals for saving his mates, and that the others recognised his peacekeeping efforts.

In reality, he served in the artillery division of the Defence Force between 2002 and 2004 at Linton. He was never deployed overseas and did not serve with the SAS.

Former Otaki Returned Services Association president Don Moselen was convicted of wearing war medals he was not entitled to in 2012. He was ordered to pay $500 for wearing the New Zealand Operational Service Medal, the Vietnam Medal and the New Zealand General Service Medal.

RSA national president Don McIver said yesterday it was "totally inappropriate" when "wannabes" tried to claim medals as their own. "I'm not sure what a person achieves by proposing he did something that he didn't do," he said.

"There's no basis for doing it, people diminish themselves as much as they do anybody else."

Fashion designer Kate Sylvester was also taken to task by veterans when she featured war medals in her collection during Australian Fashion Week in 2008. Sylvester was forced to issue a public apology.

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WHO MAY WEAR MEDALS

People can wear the medals awarded to their late family members on official days of remembrance, including Anzac Day and Armistice Day.

On such occasions, the medals should be worn on the right-hand side of the chest. Relatives may also wear medals at military funerals and some state events.

It is not normally appropriate to wear the medals of a dead friend.

Source: New Zealand Defence Force 

- The Dominion Post

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