Tulsa native Matt Farmer, who apparently now lives in Phoenix, was featured on Wednesday’s “American Idol” as auditions from Long Beach, Calif., aired. Although his performance was undeniably strong, questions have been raised about the validity of his claims to have been injured during military service in Iraq.
With his young daughter standing at his feet, Farmer wowed the judges with his big-voiced rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and they passed him through to the Hollywood rounds of the Season 12 competition.
The judges also were touched by his story that the tattoos on his arm were a memorial tribute to all his friends who passed away during his six years of military service. During an interview that ran with audition, Farmer said that during a mission in Ramadi, Iraq, his unit came across an IED (improvised explosive device) that exploded.
“I just remember waking up in a hospital in Kuwait,” he said in the pre-taped interview. “I was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.”
He also told “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest, “The medication that they gave me was supposed to make me be sterile, and 6 1/2 months later, I found out her mom was pregnant,” indicating his daughter.
However, the Guardian of Valor website, which makes its mission to “out people who falsely claim military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs,” quickly published messages from several soldiers who said they served with Farmer and that he lied about being injured in an IED explosion. They claim he was medevaced out of theater after suffering seizures as a result of drinking alcohol that reacted with an unauthorized acne medication.
“Matt Farmer is no war hero. Matt Farmer is a pathological liar that has used the blood, sweat and tears of real, hard working, tough, brave and honorable Infantry soldiers to paint himself as somone he most certainly is not,” former Army Spc. John F. McManus wrote to GuardianofValor.com.
Initially, Farmer replied to the website that the “Idol” producers “took certain things i (sic) said out of context.”
However, after the website produced video and later audio of Farmer making similar claims at another time, the “Idol” hopeful sent a new statement to the site admitting he lied about surviving an IED explosion:
“Everything you have read is correct. It was ALL lies. I in fact HAVE lied since a younger age and had a problem with it. I am coming out and making a statement (even though I was instructed not to) because i DO want to come clean,” the statement reads in part.
I do in fact take FULL responsibility for the actions and words I have said, and know that this will never go away. In NO way was I looking to take from everyone who has served. I started to believe my own lies.”
His statement also includes an apology, which reads, in part: “To EVERYONE but more importantly the men I served with, I AM DEEPLY REGRETFUL AND SORRY. my road to figuring out how to make a life built on trust starts now.”