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Liliana’s Lament: Following Code

We bring you the second part of our series on a woman in the Air Force fighting to keep her job and stay in this country. Officials at Moody Air Force Base say they have to follow strict Air Force code, which says Liliana Plata must be kicked out because she used a false identity when she enlisted.

For more than three years Liliana Plata has served the U.S. Air Force as a highly decorated airman under the name Christina Behm, earning praise and support from her superior officers and even advancing in rank ahead of schedule.

All that came to an end once she returned from a mission in Iraq.

"When I came back, my first sergeant told me there was something going on, there's this girl claiming I used her identity. So, I was shocked, I was like, Oh my God, my world is coming to an end," says Liliana.

The Air Force was alerted to Liliana's false identity after a woman in Texas was denied credit because someone was already being issued credit accounts under her name and Social Security number.

Legal experts at Moody Air Force Base say the only life Liliana knew was built on a lie.

"She lied to a high school to enroll, she lied to Airman Joshua Behm when she married him because he never knew who she truly was, she lied to her Air Force supervisor when she told that a woman in Texas was falsifying her identity, she lied to the local Social Security Office to get a second Social Security number," says LT COL Jose C. Tauro III, Chief Legal Counsel to Moody Base Commander.

Moody Air Force Base's chief judge advocate says Plata's excellent service record will not help her in this case.

"There are certain circumstances when someone's service record, no matter how good it is, might not have significant impact."

But Liliana's military defense attorney says there is hope; a similar case happened in the U.S. Army a few years ago.

CAPT Randy Hicks, Liliana's judge advocate, says, "However, instead of discharging that person, the Army decided to waive that provision, and that person not only stayed in the Army, but became a U.S. Citizen, so within the Department of Defense, there is a precedence."

But Air Force code clearly says airmen must be discharged if they enter the Air Force fraudulently, and that no waver can be given.

Liliana says she's willing to accept some kind of punishment as long as she can live her dream and remain in the U.S. Air Force.

"I apologize, especially to this girl, I never tried to hurt or damage her life," Liliana says.

The leadership at Moody realizes how much Liliana Plata has contributed, but they must proceed with their discharge effort because that's Air Force policy, and there is no leeway. It’s an uncertain future for Liliana.

Friday at 5:30 we will conclude this series by looking at what her next options are.


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