CHARLOTTE DOUGLAS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT — Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams announced via Twitter that he will now require all troops to provide proof of military identification prior to any instances in which he gives up his first class airline seats to them, sources confirmed this morning.
Williams made the change after a highly-publicized situation involving him giving up his first class seat to a gentleman who may in fact not have been a Marine.
"It is unfortunate when a celebrity is duped by someone wearing a rag-tag assortment consisting of a green beret, SEAL Special Warfare insignia, and an Army of Northern Virginia Ribbon, all on an Air Force enlisted service dress uniform," Capt. Staci Shores, Chief Professional Athletic Relations Officer, told Duffel Blog. "Very few people would spot the flaws in such an authentic looking ensemble."
Shores went on to indicate that the Department of Defense is now advising anyone who plans to give up a first class seat to a service member, regardless of whether it be to support the troops or to make themselves look good, to first request proof of military identification.
"Mr. Williams' new policy is the right one for all Americans," Shores added. "Fortunately, he tweeted out a picture of his own incredible generosity, and a few eagle-eyed veterans helped him spot the flaws. Without this act of self-promotion, Mr. Williams might have been just another victim of stolen valor."
Williams' demand for ID is already paying dividends for real life service members when they travel in uniform. On Tuesday, Williams purchased 10 first class seats and posted a Vine video to Twitter.
"These soldiers don't know it yet, but I'm about to give my first class seats to them #salutingthetroopsbecauseitsgreatfreepublicity," the tweet said, as a loop of Aloe Blacc singing "I'm The Man" played repeatedly.
Nine of the troops were able provide proof of their military service, with the exception of one private who said he forgot his ID card in his barracks room.
Airlines are reporting success with the new policies, and are petitioning the FAA to make it a regulatory requirement.
Preliminary statistics found at least 50 first class seats have been given up and another 23 stolen valor cases have been exposed in just the first few days of the policy. Additionally, 33 senior NCOs reported feeling better knowing they aren't among "the 50 dumb boots who decided to travel in uniform."