Player D’Angelo Williams snapped a photo of James Wesley Bolden after Williams decide to give up his airline seat to the elderly man, but many online commenters have accused Bolden, who was dressed in full uniform, of being a fake.
Family members say Bolden spent 25 years in the Marine Corps and has the medals to prove it.
“What he did was a very noble thing, and it wasn’t wasted on someone who was not a Marine. This was a Marine in every sense of the word,” said cousin James H. Bolden, according to WMC TV.
The family says they were pleased that Williams gave up his seat for Bolden, but say they were disheartened when other Marines began calling Bolden a fake.
“That’s almost akin to someone saying you’re not a citizen when you’ve been here in this country and you have represented it well,” H. Bolden added.
Some of the soldiers at guardiansofvalor.com said Bolden was wearing his medals in the wrong place, but as H. Bolden notes, the 77 year old man has dementia.
He says that instead of criticizing the elderly man, people should be praising him for his service.
“He doesn’t know it yet but he will be sitting in this seat when he boards the plane I always give up my 1st class seat! #isalutethetroops,” NFL player DeAngelo Williams wrote on Facebook prior to giving his seat to Bolden.
The Carolina Panther said he’s a patriot and always gives it up for the troops.
“I always do that and for those of you that are saying I shouldn’t have posted keep calm and enjoy my page and happy 4th of July (it’s called being patriotic for life),” Williams wrote.