updated 5/15/2006 4:25:28 AM ET 2006-05-15T08:25:28

A man who spent years recounting his time in a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam has been revealed as a fraud, according to a newspaper report.

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John Powell, 57, told his wife, friends, veterans and others that he spent more than three years in captivity after his helicopter was shot down, even sharing his story in articles and videos.

But when he tried to get a fishing boat last month under the guise of being a former POW, veterans investigated and discovered Powell never served in Vietnam. They looked into his past after he posted his story and plea for the boat on a Web site.

His national service records show he served less than a year in the Army in Alaska before being discharged in 1968.

"For every veteran out there, I am sorry, I am sorry," Powell told The Dallas Morning News. "It will never happen again. Never."

Powell said he was recently found to have bipolar disorder and plans to seek treatment. He also said he has other ailments, including stroke-induced neurological damage.

Powell said he wasn't quite sure what prompted his lie, which began as early as the 1970s.

"I have a lot of respect for anybody that wears the uniform," he said. "It's just that, maybe I wish I could have done more. Maybe I wish I was a better help and I wasn't."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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