No record of TV contestant's combat injury
A singer who appeared on the NBC show "America's Got Talent" and claimed he was injured during a grenade blast in Afghanistan has no military record of his purported combat injuries, the Minnesota National Guard said Tuesday.
Timothy Michael Poe appeared on the nationally televised show Monday. He told the judges he spent 14 years in the military, and suffered a broken back and brain injury when he was hit by a grenade in Afghanistan in 2009.
"I had volunteered for a team to go out and clear buildings and help out with the wounded," Poe said during a taped interview on the show. "There was a guy who come up with a rocket-propelled grenade. I saw it coming down, and by the time I turned and went to jump on top of my guys, I yelled 'grenade' and the blast had hit me."
According to military records, Poe served with the Minnesota Army National Guard from December 2002 through May 2011, working as a supply specialist. Records show he was deployed in Kosovo from Oct. 10, 2007 to July 15, 2008, and then served in Afghanistan for about a month in 2009.
"Sgt. Poe's official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as he reports," Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said in a statement.
Olson noted that Poe did not receive the Purple Heart, which is given to those who are injured in enemy combat. Poe didn't claim he had received the award.
"We looked very closely at his record," Olson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We did not find something to substantiate what he said."
An NBC spokeswoman said the network and Poe had no comment.
Poe told the judges that he was from San Antonio, Texas. The television show listed his age as 35.
Poe had a stutter when he spoke with the judges, which he attributed to his brain injury. The stutter disappeared when he sang. He also didn't appear to stutter when he spoke with the show's host after his performance.
When he was describing his injury, Poe said during the video clip: "When I was laying there I thought I'd never see my daughter walk down the aisle or throw the baseball with my son or be able to hold them and see them. ... I didn't want my life to be over."
He said singing has helped him deal with the injury.
"I'm just happy to be here," he told the three celebrity judges, who each gave him a 'yes' vote to advance to the show's next round.