(WMC) - Family members are upset and hurt that their relative, James Wesley Bolden, is being called a liar and "a fake."
They say Bolden spent more than 25 years active in the Marine Corp, but many online commenter's are calling him a fake after an online picture from NFL player, DeAngelo Williams, went viral.
Williams posted the picture after giving up his first class seat to the 77-year-old who was wearing a full-dress uniform with a chest full of medals.
"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, who is currently the police director at Southwest Tennessee Community College and a former Memphis police director.
He says family members were ecstatic when they heard the NFL superstar gave James W. Bolden his first class seat, but now they're hurt because some Marines have looked at this picture and questioned whether Bolden is truly a Marine.
"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.
On the website guardianofvalor.com, a Marine who took a second picture of Bolden says he was wearing some of his medals in the wrong place.
The man said he questioned Bolden and then lectured him loudly about disrespecting true patriots.
Bolden's cousin said the 77-year-old has health problems and that may be the reason his hard-earned medals are being called into question.
"Yes, he suffers from dementia," Bolden said.
Director Bolden says his cousin is now being cared for by his daughter in the San Diego area.
He said his cousin enlisted at the age of 17 and then went on to serve nearly three decades. He says instead of criticizing his cousin, people should be praising him.
Family members say, after serving in the Marines, Bolden worked as a volunteer sheriff for Shelby County and was a cheerful member of Bellevue Baptist Church.
In the end, DeAngelo Williams, who first took the man's photo, said he doesn't know if the guy is legit or not, but says he's not sure if that ultimately matters.
Williams says he gives up his first class seat to servicemen and women often and this won't keep him from doing it again.
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