Stuttering country singer Timothy Poe is defending his military record following his controversial appearance on this week's episode of America’s Got Talent.
Alleging to have served 14 years in the military, Poe told AGT judge Howie Mandel the emotional, reality TV-ready history of what led to his stutter: he'd been hit with a grenade in Afghanistan resulting in a broken back and brain injury, he claimed; meanwhile, photos he submitted from his tour of duty appeared onscreen, showing the 35-year-old father of two in fatigues with a gun.
Except that wasn't him: as previously reported, Staff Sgt. Norman Bone came forward to call Poe's foul and clarify that he's the soldier shown in the photo, which was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Defense website.
Besides Bone, soldiers from Poe's former army unit also say he is lying about his injuries.
“It may not have happened exactly like I said it did," Poe tells the New York Post. "I really do not remember a lot of things since the accident. I remember a blast going off by my head and being in Afghanistan and telling one of the sergeants. It is like a dream . . . I can’t remember things exactly how it happened.”
On Friday, TMZ reported that the NBC reality competition were mulling whether to edit Poe out of the broadcast, and that Mandel were furious with him. Based on Monday's audition, prior to the fake photo revelation, he advanced to the next round.
According to an Army document from April 2011, supplied by Poe to the Post, he has an "injury or disease received in the line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict or caused by an instrumentality of war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war.”
But an Army spokesperson said he was stationed in Afghanistan for under a month and that his records are not complete.
On Wednesday, Poe confessed to lying about earning medals such as the Purple Heart; he also came clean about his story that he learned he could sing when a speech therapist advised him to try it to help his stutter.
“I do not know how to explain why I answered about never singing before,” he says in his Post interview, which was conducted over email. “I was in a band. But it was before the accident and at the time of AGT."
A rep for the U.S. Army did not respond to THR's request for comment. An AGT had no comment on Poe's future on the show.
- Howie Mandel