Woodhy Chamron emigrated from Cambodia to Australia on the 21st March, 1976. Not much was known about Woodhy as he eventually settled into his home suburb of Lidcombe in the western suburbs of Sydney. He claims that he was the original founder of the 1st Khmer Community New South Wales, 1977.
Over the following years he became a self proclaimed leader in the Khmer community around the western suburbs of Sydney.
In 2014, Chamron made inquiries to join the Auburn (Sydney, NSW) Returned and Services League (RSL) Sub Branch of the NSW RSL, claiming he was a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Cambodian Army and the United States Army during the Vietnam war.
He declined to deliver documentary proof of his alleged United States and Cambodian Army military service to the RSL Sub Branch office, however, he volunteered to disclose some documents to the then Vice President of the Auburn RSL Sub Branch, Mr Ron McLennan at Chamron’s private home. He emphasised that these documents were not to be taken away and copied.
Strangely, this demand was agreed to and in documents held by ANZMI, Vice President McLennan visited Chamron at his Lidcombe home and viewed documents that McLennan states satisfied himself of Chamron’s alleged United States Army and Cambodian Army service as a Lieutenant Colonel. McLennan also viewed purported military medals that Chamron showed him.
The below email document was received from a concerned RSL member who was inadvertently forwarded the document in error. In this document, McLennan, states that he read four sheets of paper pertaining to the military service of Chamron and “they all looked ok” . He further stated, “With American military and Cambodian Army I can only read the papers and hope they are original. About the medals, I have to take his word. We all know American service medals about (sic) and how you get them very easily”.
I Ron McLennan was the first person to view Woodhy service records at his home, they looked ok to me there were about four sheets of his record of service. With American military and Cambodian Army I had to approve them as I can only read the papers and hope they are original. About the medals I have to take his word. We all know American Service medals about and how you get them very easily.
The major problem with McLennan’s slack attitude towards Chamron’s claims is that we have evidence that most of the four sheets of paper McLennan was shown were written in a foreign language. Our inquiries have confirmed that McLennan cannot read, speak or understand Khmer, so he would not have any comprehension of what he was reading.
McLennan’s apathetic disregard for medals protocols is also concerning in respect to his comments about how you get American service medals very easily. All this is coming from a current executive Vice President of an RSL Sub Branch, who is responsible for the integrity and dignity of that Sub Branch and the credibility of the State RSL movement.
Why didn’t McLennan verify if the medals were genuinely awarded or purchased replicas over the internet? He allowed Chamron to dictate his own terms as to what documents he was shown and then naively states that “I have to take his word.”
For McLennan to make this comment, either Chamron told McLennan they were U.S military medals, or McLennan obviously did not even ask the question. McLennan did not obtain any proof whatsoever of what they were, and must have assumed they were genuine U.S military medals because of what Chamron told him about his U.S Army service.
In any case, Chamron’s medals are not “American Service Medals”. They are Cambodian military medals.
As Chamron would not provide any proof to ANZMI regarding his medal entitlements, we believe that all of them are non awarded replicas. They can be purchased on line over the internet.
Following McLennan’s visit to Chamron's house, he then personally approved his application for full membership to the Auburn RSL Sub Branch. Chamron has never appeared before a Membership Committee to have his claims or documentation validated.
State RSL Governance Regulations require all applicants to be processed in this fashion in order that the Membership committee can then recommend to the full committee if the application should be approved. McLennan took it upon himself to just approve everything without validating anything.
Thanks to this bungled process, Chamron then joined the Auburn RSL as a full returned services member without disclosing any proof of his claims.
This was much to the surprise of an overwhelming number of genuine returned and service members of the Auburn RSL Sub Branch. These other members had to produce their own Discharge Certificates or Certificates of Service, and photo identification before they could join the RSL movement, as required by State RSL regulations.
Following his acceptance into the Auburn RSL Sub Branch, Chamron then commenced attending official functions displaying the RSL insignia on his jackets with all his medals. The below photograph is a recent photograph of Chamron at an official VP (Victory in the Pacific) day ceremony in 2015.
In the above photograph, Chamron is wearing the following medals -;
1. Royal Order of Cambodia.
3. Royal Order of Cambodia.
4. Royal Order of Cambodia.
5. Royal Order of Sahametrei.
7. National Defence Medal. (Cambodia.)
8. Medal of Faithful Service, (Cambodia.)
The below mentioned photograph is Chamron again at another official function in 2015.
McLennan failed to make any attempt to identify the medal ribands that Chamron wears at all official occasions.
The gold braided military officers cap Chamron wears is similar to a General in the Cambodian Army. We have displayed both of them below.
Chamron is still yet to convince anyone at Auburn RSL Sub Branch that he is entitled to wear this highly ranked Officers cap and no one has told him to "get it off."
We started making some inquires about Mr Chamron and ascertained that in an email dated in 2014, he sent to a friend Mr. Khmeryong of the International Khmer Assembly, (IKA) Minnesota, U.S.A. he informed him that he (Chamron) was a “1st Lieutenant in the Lon Nol Army from 1970 - 1975 of OTS/3 from famous Khmer Military College”.
- Lon Nol's army 1st Lieutenant 1970-1975 of OTS/3 from famous Khmer Military College.
We presume "OTS" is Officer Training School.
He then emigrated to Australia in March,1976, where he later claimed to McLennan and other Auburn RSL members that he was a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Cambodian Army and also had U.S Army service. A remarkable rise in rank from an alleged 1st Lieutenant to a Lieutenant Colonel when he had supposedly already left the Cambodian Army 37 years beforehand.
Interestingly, Chamron claimed in the email to his friend at the IKA Minnesota in 2014, that he was a former 1st Lieutenant in the Lon Nol Army. This is the same year he informed McLennan and others that he was a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Cambodian and U.S. Army.
ANZMI also made inquiries with Chamron’s claims of being a member of the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Our counterparts in the United States made a thorough inspection of United States Military Archive records and lo and behold, no Woodhy Chamron or Chamron Woodhy has ever served in the U.S. Military at any time whatsoever.
We forwarded two emails to Chamron requesting details of his military service in the United States and Cambodian Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. We also requested proof of his medal and riband entitlements.
He failed to provide any particulars and then abused us for asking. He claimed in his response that he was an Australian Cambodian war hero and that we should recognize him as that.
We then sent two emails to Mr Ron McLennan, Vice President of the Auburn RSL Sub Branch. He also failed to provide any information about documents or medals he was shown. He also failed to provide information as to why he was satisfied that the four sheets of paper Chamron produced , mostly in the Khmer language, convinced him that he should approve Chamron for full membership of his Auburn RSL Sub Branch.
We look forward to viewing a Certificate of Service or a Discharge Certificate from the Cambodian or U.S. Armies from Chamron, McLennan or anyone else who may have an interest in this matter.
We will not hold our breath.
Chamron claims he is an Australian Cambodian war hero. We seriously doubt that. We would prefer to describe him as an imposter with no credibility. We will continue to portray him as an imposter until he provides evidence of his U.S Army and Cambodian Army service as a Lieutenant Colonel and provide conclusive evidence of all his purported medal entitlements.
Since Chamron has been accepted as a full member of the Auburn RSL Sub Branch, he has used that Sub Branch as a platform to lobby the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, the former State Governor Dame Marie Bashir and other Politicians about political events he is unhappy with, that he claims are occurring in Cambodia.
McLennan and anyone else involved in the process of Chamron's acceptance to the RSL movement should resign their committee positions forthwith for their incompetence.
NSW RSL State Branch should hold an investigation into the entire Chamron membership process to ensure similar incidents are not repeated or have occurred in the past at Auburn RSL Sub Branch.