Newspaper Fell for Fake Iraq Story

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An Ohio soldier who claimed she joined the Army after her daughter was hurt in Iraq made up the story, the Army confirmed Friday.

A spokesman said the military discovered that Pfc. Cindra Smith’s daughter had never been in the service, as Smith first publicly claimed in a story that appeared in a newspaper at Redstone Arsenal, a base in north Alabama.

That story led to a piece in The Huntsville Times, and the Times story was distributed by The Associated Press to newspapers across Alabama and Ohio.

Smith, of Xenia, Ohio, 15 miles east of Dayton, was 39 when stories appeared earlier this year, and fellow soldiers called her “Grandma” because of her age. She claimed she wanted to be trained to disarm bombs in Iraq like one that seriously injured her daughter.

The Times reported Friday that key parts of Smith’s story were fiction, and Redstone Arsenal spokesman Andy Roake confirmed that an investigation had revealed the woman’s daughter was never in the military.

The Army apparently learned of the discrepancy after being contacted by relatives of Smith who saw the newspaper, he said.

Smith is still at Redstone with a training unit. Roake told The Associated Press on Friday that she was on duty and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Roake said Smith has been placed on “hold” status while the military determines whether to let her continue the explosives training.

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