Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Christopher David Duke another fake Marine

April 14th, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | No Comments »

Christopher David Duke

Christopher-David-Duke-300x249

Remember when I talked about why folks will pretend to be something they aren’t? Well here is a case where a guy is pretending to be a former Marine and from the screen shots I have seen, I would imagine him a wounded Vet who has been released from the Corps.

Well, in this case, Chris Duke has unleashed the hounds of hell via Jonn over at “This Ain’t Hell” a website dedicated to exposing folks like Chris.  He has a survival business teaching folks how to outlive a Zombie attack while making Daryl from walking dead look like a Cub Scout. Here are the links to Jonn’s site and you can even hear the phone conversation he had.  I have never seen Jonn get so mad before but this case pushed him over the line.

Just another example of “Stolen Valor” where you pretend to be in the Military to gain the trust of everyday good hearted folks to further your business endeavors (like Michael Lattea) , maybe a dating  situation or your secret fantasy of having served.

While some may feel that these exposures are harsh, I don’t.  If the law can’t come after them, then their name will forever be out there for others to see like my name that I craved in the wet cement outside of my house as a kid.  Etched in time for all to see and like my father told me “Fools names and fools faces always appear in public places.”

Sometimes, guys like this (as they battle in the comments) should remember the wise words of a great man…

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

Great Job Jonn on exposing another fraud and of course a Fake Marine which I hate even more…

Semper Fi,

Taco

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Busting Military Poser’s, CASE #78 The Car Salesman

April 4th, 2014 Posted in Military | 3 Comments »

The past four years have flown by since I was approached by Bob Massie asking if I would be interested in advertising for My Service Pride dot com (MSP).  After looking at the website and seeing what this young Sgt Matt Massie (his son) was doing, I told his dad Bob that I don’t take paid ads but would be proud to help him out anyway I could with my site.  It has been a friendship that I have cherished over the years.

One of the laughs we get is when some turd will put an order into MSP requesting some off the wall stuff.  I mean some really off the wall stuff like a kid in the candy store.  “Oh I’ll take three Silver Stars, 8 bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts and hell, throw the POW medal in for good measure.”

What they (Posers) don’t realize is that MSP isn’t some large autonomous company, it’s a former Marine Sergeant who knows just about everything about EVERY SINGLE award out there (I kid you not) and truly cares about the pride we have as service members along with his sister and his dad.   So when an order comes through with all these awards like the Silver Star, Matt will write back requesting documentation of the award.  If they are unable or unwilling to provide the proof, he cancels the order and refunds the money.  They slink away, to crawl into what ever hole they came out of.

A month ago, Matt sent me this one order with a note “Hey Taco, you’ll love this guy!”

He even called him up to verify the awards and said, “you know, he talks the lingo and I’m just not sure about him.” and the funniest part was when Mr. Super Marine asked “Do you think my rack will fit on a coffee mug and not look to outrageous?”

March-Poser-Rack

I started with the usual searches to see if he was in any of the data bases (of course not) then I sent his info to Mary and Jonn to get a feeler out to some real pro’s and then up to Quantico to see if my contact up there had some info on this living legend.  I mean, I should have been eating in a Chow hall named after this guy.

That week, after exhausting all avenues of approach to track this phantom down, I called him.  I let him tell me about how he was a POW, got all these awards and retired as a Marine Corps full Colonel after 31 years.  There was a Linkedin profile for that name listing every op that the Corps has fought in since Vietnam.  I mean this guy claimed it all.

The funny thing is as I spoke to him, I ran down each op that was on this profile (no photo though) and he confirmed Yes to them all and here they are for you to see along with all of his MOS’s down below.

About a week after that phone call, I phoned again to put him on notice to take down the Linkedin site or provide proof of service.  He said he would.  Well, he didn’t and a few days later I called him at his car dealership in NJ where he is a used car salesman.  He was actually very surprised that I had tracked him down at his work and asked “How did you find me here?” I replied “it’s called the internet you dipSh**”

Mr. Super Marine didn’t like my approach and denied all of it.  I thought that was funny since I taped the whole conversation.  Of course he threatened me with the FBI and that he knew the Stolen Valor laws and I would have a law suit on my hands blah, blah and BLAH.

Later that week, a good buddy of mine who lives about 20 minutes from the car dealership went to pay him a visit.  I wanted to know if there was a ton of Marine Corps “I love me” stuff on his walls and he was using this hero tact to sell cars.  John said, “No, just a folded American flag, that’s it.” So if he is using this to further his business sales, I don’t know.  Anyway, we put his audio up over at My Service Pride dot com and Matt even has his outrageous Rack on there too.

Anyway, it’s always fun calling these guys up like Don Shipley does and we may have some more in the future.

I hope you enjoy what Matt and Bob put together over at http://www.myservicepride.com/content/busting-posers-weve-got-audiotape/ and if you are Military, know that we are taking care of our reputations from guys like Super Marine…

S/F

Taco

 

0311 Rifleman
8652 Reconnaissance Man, Parachute Qualified (NMOS) [now 0323]
8654 Reconnaissance Man, Parachute and Combatant Diver Qualified (NMOS) [now 0326]
2747 Linguist – Vietnamese
0302 Infantry Officer
8026 Parachute/Combatant Diver Officer
7208 Air Support Control Officer
2768 Linguist – Spanish
8221 Regional Affairs Officer, Latin America
8241 Foreign Area Officer, Latin America
2305 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer
2713 Linguist – Arabic (Egyptian)
2721 Linguist – Kurdish
8246 Foreign Area Officer, Southwest Asia
0284 Advanced Foreign Counterintelligence Officer
2711 Linguist – Afghan Pashtu
2722 Linguist – Persian
0286 Advanced Military Source Operations Officer
2791 Linguist – Russian
0288 Military Source Operations Officer
0290 Strategic Debriefing Officer

Experience

United States Department of Defense

assigned to another agency

United States Department of Defense

Greater New York City Area

July 2009 thru Present:
Currently assigned to another agency – Greater New York City Area

July 2004 thru June 2009:
Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (DIAC) at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) in Washington, DC
Iraqi Ministry of Interior/ Intelligence and Counterterrorism Directorate – Baghdad, Iraq
Office of the Defense Attaché to the US Ambassador at:
US Embassy-Cairo, Egypt; US Embassy-Bogota, Colombia; US Embassy-Santiago, Chile

“Work relentlessly, accomplish much, and be more than you seem.”

להיות יעיל ללא רחם בעבודה, מקבלים הרבה הישגים, תמיד “להיות” יותר מאשר אחרים תופסים אותך להיות.

Soyez d’une efficacité redoutable au travail, obtenir beaucoup de réalisations, toujours «être» plus que d’autres vous perçoivent l’être.

آیا کاری که دیگران مایل به انجام آن نیست.موفقیت کارهای سخت را تکمیل کنید.تبدیل شدن به “ادامه” نسبت به افراد دیگر فکر می کنم شما هستند.

Seien Sie bei Ihrer Arbeit unerbittlich, viel erreichen, und immer “sein” mehr, als Sie zu sein scheinen.

Будьте безжалостно эффективным в работе, стремиться к достижению много, и всегда “быть” больше, чем другие воспринимают вас быть.

Ser despiadadamente eficientes en el trabajo, lograr mucho, y siempre “ser” más que otros perciben que seas.

  • Security Manager (Post Holder in GCAA UAE)

     

National Joint Terrorism Task Force

When thinking about successful organizations, everyone knows about the US Navy & Marine Corps FA-18 Flight Demonstration Squadron, the BLUE ANGELS – who have taken on the mantra of being “Ambassadors of Good Will.” Their decades long history (since 1946) of consistantly building upon a solid track-record of amazing successful achievement can be broken down to a four-step process:
• BELIEF LEVEL – with vision and clarity they sustain growth in a high level of belief in four areas: their PROCESSES, their PRODUCT(S), their PEOPLE, and their PURPOSE.
• BRIEFING – they’ve compiled a detailed PLAN, every part of which contains inherent FOCUS on the end result and is COMMUNICATED succinctly as possible, in clear and understandable terms.
• CONTRACTS – every member of their team has a high level of TRUST in the competencies of their fellows, is committed to the flawless EXECUTION of their assigned tasks, and holds a strong sense of COMMITMENT to their mission.
• DEBRIEFING – after every “performance” – regardless of it being a rehearsal or one of the over 70 air shows performed before millions of spectators every year – every member of the team, without regard to rank or experience level differences, acknowledges mistakes that they’ve made and clearly states the corrective actions that they will take to eliminate the possibility of repetition of those errors.
With each and every subsequent DEBRIEFING – which assesses their strengths and weaknesses, fosters discipline both individually and collectively, and instills a high level of accountability – the BELIEF LEVEL of the team members in themselves and in each other grows ever greater, liberating them to attain increasingly higher levels of competency individually and continually exceed previous expectations together as a team.
Members of the BLUE ANGELS are constantly heard saying: “I’m happy to be here.” They’re all enthusiastically committed to continuous exemplary performance of their assigned tasks.

United States Marine Corps

active duty/active reserve status 1-73 thru 6-04
Began as an enlisted Reconnaissance Marine; and, then transitioned from SSgt (E6) to 2Lt (O1) through the Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP).
Assignments included: DAO-Saigon (South Vietnam, Cambodia, and US SAG, Thailand) serving under:
Col. Nicholas M. Trapnell Jr, USMC – NOV 1973 to APR 1974
LtCol. Charles A. Barscow, USMC – NOV 1973 to JUL 1974
Col. Paul L. Siegmund, USMC – APR 1974 to FEB 1975
Col. Eugene R. Howard Jr, USMC – JAN 1975 to APR 1975
LtCol. William E. McKinstry, USMC – JUL 1974 to APR 1975

16 Dec 1973 – 23 Feb 1974 Battle of Phnom Penh
27 Apr 1974 – 2 May 1974 Battle of Svay Rieng
12 Dec 1974 – 6 Jan 1975 Battle of Phuoc Long
3 Mar 1975 – 11 Mar 1975 Battle of Ban Me Thuot
28 Mar 1975 – 30 Mar 1975 Da Nang, RVN evacuation
9 Apr 1975 – 22 Apr 1975 Xuan Loc, RVN
30 Apr 1975 OPERATION FREQUENT WIND-Saigon evacuation
15 May 1975 OPERATION MAYAGUEZ-Koh Tang Island, Cambodia
24 – 25 April 1980 OPERATION EAGLE CLAW-near Tabas, Iran
25 Oct – 15 Dec 1983 OPERATION URGENT FURY-Grenada
20 Dec 1989 – 12 Jan 1990 OPERATION JUST CAUSE-Panama
2 Aug 1990 – 28 Feb 1991 OPERATION DESERT STORM-Saudi Arabia & Iraq
9 Dec 1992 – 4 May 1993 OPERATION RESTORE HOPE-Somalia
19 Sept 1994 31 Mar 1995 OPERATION RESTORE DEMOCRACY-Haiti
24 Mar 1999 – 10 June 1999 OPERATION NOBLE ANVIL-Yugoslavia (deployed as a Forward Air Controller directing US-led NATO bombing missions, which led to the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo)
1 May 2003 – 31 Oct 2003 OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM-Afghanistan (deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism)
1 Nov 2003 – 30 Apr 2004 OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (deployed as a Senior Intelligence/Policy Advisor at Iraqi Ministry of Interior/ Intelligence and Counterterrorism Directorate – Baghdad, Iraq)
1 July 2004 – transitioned to a civilian administrative role within DoD.

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Crazy Lawsuit Friday, “After Burner”

March 28th, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | 2 Comments »

Crazy Fight Suit Law suit.

youngMitch

There is a guy named Jim “Murph” Murphy, who started this motivational speaking group called “After Burner” back in the 90’s.  They do some great stuff but recently Murph decided to patent the use of wearing a flight to give any motivational speeches in.  He also wants the patent on such terms as “AfterBurner” etc.

Well, here is something written by non other then General Chuck Yeager, and I dare say Murph, when you piss off Chuck Yeager, you are really going over the top.  Maybe it’s time to step away from the lawsuit . The Gov’t gave you that flight suit to start with and I don’t think you have the right to own the Patent to it.  Just me, thinking out loud.  What’s next, sue anyone who post a photo of themself wearing a Flight Suit??

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chuck-Yeager/465193060493?hc_location=timeline

A company is allegedly trying to grab the exclusive rights to dress in flight suits when giving a motivational talk, claiming they were the first.
Heck I’ve been doing that since 1947 or even earlier.

AFTERBURNER, INC. vs THE CORPS GROUP,CRUISER GROUP LLC,DIRTMAN LLC,MACH 6 LLC,JOHN BORNEMAN,CAREY LOHRENZ,KYLE HOWLIN,ANDREW DINGEE

According to 1st female Navy fighter pilot Carey Lohrenz: A veteran owned company called Afterburner, Inc. is using the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), in an attempt to “trademark” the generic flight suit aviators wore in military service, effectively preventing any other veterans from wearing it in commerce, personal photos on websites, or for personal use, ie. on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Currently, several retired USMC Officers, and a Navy Officer are currently being sued for this, and have been trying to fight this for over 4 years, with costs spiraling above $600,000.00
Below is a list of the trademarks in question, note, all information is publicly available.

Military Flight Suit USPTO# 85094889
http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85…e=statusSearch

You’ll note that what Afterburner, Inc. is asking for is not the flight suit configuration that they use in their marketing and service delivery; in their marketing and service delivery they wear a flight suit with an Afterburner patch on the right chest and a specific name patch on the left chest. They are asking for the ENTIRE generic flight suit-global ownership of a Department of Defense garment.

They did not ask for trademark on their specific flight suit configuration or brand logo.

Their intent is to prevent anyone from wearing any color flight suit with or without patches.

They have stated that their “trade dress” is not limited to the flight suit. They claim it includes the use of any and all photographs or videos of fighter aircraft, of any service, or even of foreign military forces! So, veterans would be prohibited from using personal images that reflect their time spent as military aviators – on websites, in books, on social media sites such as LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages, and in any marketing material.

This affects ALL Veterans.

bellweaponsOpps, wearing a flight suit again…dang, didn’t mean to violate Murph’s patent wishes

Afterburner, Inc. also trademarked common military and commercial aviation terms, and are currently suing veterans who attempt to use these terms. Theoretically, the trademarks, if valid, should be able to be used under “Fair Use” doctrine. Unfortunately that does not prevent Afterburner from litigating.

Clearly, these folks were not the first to use these terms, nor did they come up with them.

“Task Saturation” USPTO# 75379397

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75…e=statusSearch

Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win USPTO# 85279648

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85…e=statusSearch

Apparently Afterburner filed for another common term- Situational Awareness.

They even sent in marketing collateral to support the notion they owned it.
Somehow, they didn’t follow up on a piece of requested information and after having the TM for 8 years or so, their application is now dead.

Just how many other terms they have tried to TM that we don’t know about? You would have to ask Afterburner.

“Situational Awareness” USPTO# 75467621 – (although they let this TM lapse)

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=75…e=statusSearch

Other former military folks have trademarked the following common use terms:

“Wingman” USPTO #3652339
http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=36…e=statusSearch

“Knock-it-Off” USPTO# 7794852

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=77…e=statusSearch

The classic U.S. Navy Blue Angels saying “Glad to be Here” by one of their own, former Blue Angel John Foley

http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=78…e=statusSearch

Link to Flightsuit Trademark: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85…e=statusSearchKim and Mitch

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Q: can you get a speeding ticket in War? A: Yes

March 3rd, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | No Comments »

Flashback Monday…Here is a letter from my dad who served over in Vietnam back in the old days.  They are in the process of moving out of their winter home when he came across this little jewel from 47 years ago.  Semper Fi, Taco

PS. I love the L/Cpl’s spelling…also does anyone know a Marine named Robert S. Nesbit?

Redacted Vietnam traffic ticket

I was going thru my desk and saw a piece of pink copy paper wrapped around some old military currency.  When I opened it up, I found the traffic ticket I had received in Viet Nam.  Story follows:

The time had finally arrived for me to meet Mary for R&R and we had decided on Hawaii since I had gotten several great reports on going there. Something had delayed my travel orders and I had to make several calls to get them on track. I received a call to report to the White Elephant to pick up my orders for the flight for that night. Mary was already on her way there due to time differences.    I was running a bit late, and ended up behind a long line of traffic composed of various kinds of vietnamese vehicles and military trucks.  I had a “hot” little Japanese built jeep that I floored and passed somewhere between 11 and 13 vehicles that I can remember seeing zip by as I passed.  I just pulled back into my lane when I saw the military policeman ahead flagging me over to the side of the road.  I showed him my military license and he proceeded to write me this ticket.  As you can see it stated that that my violation was “improper passing and lane usage on a curve”.  Thank goodness for the curve or he would have seen me passing all those vehicles recklessly, speeding etc etc and been able to throw the book literally at me.

I accepted the ticket,  told him I was leaving on R&R that night and asked him nicely,  what would happen if I got another ticket.  Without cracking a smile, he said “Well, Sir, if you get another ticket, you are kicked out of Viet Nam. You would not believe how much I spun the wheels trying to throw up gravel and look reckless as I drove away hoping he would give me another ticket but he just smiled and waited for the next victim.  I called my boss that I knew would be coming along that road shortly after me and told him about the speed trap.  He thanked me since he already had several tickets and assured me that I could go on R&R in spite of the ticket. So goes life in the fast lane on November 7, 1967 in Danang Viet Nam.

UPDATE:  I looked in Together we served and there was a Robert Nesbit, Marine MP who got out a year after he gave my dad his ticket.  I sent him an invite.  What a small world.

Nez1Nez2

 

Going down the Poser Rabbit hole

February 13th, 2014 Posted in Military | 2 Comments »

Going down the Poser Rabbit hole

Poser's

As you can tell, these last few years I have pulled away from writing short stories and been concentrating on busting posers.  Nothing makes me want to eviscerate a human being more then to see these clowns claiming to be something  they aren’t.    They do it to scam money, rape women, get attention for a business or election or just pretend they are someone.

If you want to be associated with the military, well why not just join?  I work for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command and would be happy to get you onto the yellow footsteps if you can make it past the selection process.

The past six years, I have seen a remarkable increase in Stolen Valor cases and it seems that a day doesn’t go by without  Jonn and Mark over at “This Ain’t Hell” exposing a new case.  You would think with this thing called the “Internet”, folks would realize how fast their lies can be exposed.  Since it’s tough to prosecute under the Stolen Valor laws (mainly theft of services will get you) we have pretty much been blessed by the courts to “out” them to the public.  They can threaten court but the truth wins out every time.

Now down to business on busting a poser.  Over the years in my past life, I did a stint as a Private Investigator and repo man.  Skip tracing was an important part of tracking down a person or car you wanted to steal back for the bank.  That was the research side of things which is about 98% of the job.

1.  Trust but Verify!  You will find poser’s everyday all around you.  I have met them at Charity Balls in uniform and even sat next to one in the Cockpit of my commercial aircraft.  Hell, I had a man turn in his Nephew for posing.  If they claim to be a Marine, I can drill down in about 6 questions to find out the truth.  If they are from another service, it takes longer.  As you can tell, being a Marine, that is my specialty, other services I have to pass on to the Subject Matter Experts out there (SME’s) listed later.

Let’s say you meet someone that makes you go “Really? You were a (Insert here Marine? SEAL? Special Forces? PJ? Delta?”  Best thing is to play dumb and let them spew their madness to you and trust me they will especially if they think you are clueless about the subject.  They will begin telling you all sorts of crazy stories.  See no one was ever just a Cook in Vietnam or a truck driver or KC 130 pilot (man they are the best pilots too), they were LRRPS with the Rangers or Marine Recon killing the Cong in spades thus receiving their Silver Star or Navy Cross.  The younger guys in this generation may have spent five years in Afghanistan and Iraq but can’t talk about it due to the PTSD they have from their service.  With so many guys/gals having served there, they figure they can hide in the masses.  Some go on to make PTSD video’s or act as prop for the Democratic party of Colorado.  These two examples were not even in the Military.

You will want to get their names and take photos (good close ups of the medals and their face) of them especially if they are wearing the uniform with the bling on it.   If you want to expose them, suck up to their ego and say something like “Do you have a card? Would you be willing to talk to our 6th grade Sunday school class about serving our country?”  They love to talk and with the card you now have a phone number and email.  If you are crafty, you can load their info into your phone and say something like “what’s your birthday? I would love our kids to drop you a birthday card.”  Then take a photo of them and put that in the contact file.  Remember, the more information you can gather on the subject, the better it is later on.

I have a fake Facebook account and email set up to friend these guys.  That way I can grab their photos from Facebook, twitter etc.  A great program to take screen shots is MW Snap3 and is one of the best things since sliced bread.  You need to gather evidence before they can delete the accounts or photo’s.

I was at the SkyBall when I met Gunny PJ James, who was an actual Marine in Vietnam but somehow as the Navajo Indian code talker Marine Escort, inflated his distinguished career as this Recon Code talker.  I let him tell me how he was a POW captured on a Patrol and had to use the body of his dead best friend to float down a river to escape the ole Viet Cong.  It must have really been bloated and smelly to allow him to use it as a raft.  Loved that one!  Anyway, I spoke to him and played up to his ego and then asked if I could take a photo of him with our XO (we were all in Uniform) but when I shot the photo, I zoomed in on him and his rack.  I mentioned that we would like to fly him out to be a guest speaker to our Young Marines and that is where I got his card.  From there a Cpl at work who is a ribbon chaser helped me identify all his medals.

Ok, let’s use him as the test case.  The first thing I do for a Marine is to check Marine on line (MOL) locator to see if there is anyone there with that name and rank.  Then I check facebook and Together we served.  If they are claiming the senior awards like the Silver Star, I check Doug Sterner’s outstanding project  http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/ and this is pretty complete but there is always the chance that your subject is not here.  I can tell you that if the person says “I got that medal on a secret mission that is still classified, red star clusters should be going off right away. (Google Andrew Diabo, fake Marine for another incredible story of a Canadian posing as a US Marine and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

Now Google is your next best friend.  Start with the subjects name and work different combinations and include different things like + USMC, SEAL, etc.  it will take you hours to stumble onto a trail and one piece of info will open up another avenue to pursue.  Sometimes it takes you down a rabbit hole and you have to back up only to jump down another.  Google images are great too.  Gunny James was photographed in Washington DC and the Washington Post ran a caption saying “Vietnam POW, retired Gunny PJ James” and there he was on a float in NYC for a Veterans Day parade.

Recently I needed to track down a guy and he was using Google plus which he had set up a profile with photo along with the car dealership he worked out of.  He was very surprised when I called him and asked “How did you track me down at work?” Well I sort of lost it and replied “it’s called the internet you dipship.”

Now you need to get a FOIA done on the turd.  The boys at “This Ain’t hell” wrote a great piece on how to do this.  I clipped them all together for your reference in one long piece here at the Sandgram.  To get the FOIA, you need their full name, DOB and if able, SSN number.  If you are really series about this, you can subscribe to those data mining sites for a fee and that will dig up a lot about your perp but some of it is outdated.  I would try getting a FOIA done from the info listed above first.  If you hit the wall, you can contact the greats out there who are death on Posers.

First of all, the ultimate guide on Stolen Valor comes from the work of Jugg Burkett (http://www.stolenvalor.com/team.cfm) who was trying to raise money for a Vietnam memorial for our Dallas Vets and he was running into fake Vets all around.  I would HIGHLY recommend reading his book.  He is the Granddaddy of this movement and I’m proud to call him a friend.

Folks like Mary Schantag and her late husband Chuck, who started the POW Network do incredible work tracking folks down and posting them on her site.  Now she continues this labor of love exposing folks over at http://www.pownetwork.org/  If you have all the info on a perp, she can do expedited FOIA’s since they know her really well at the NPRC but make sure it’s worth her time.  Tracking down “I heard he said he was Special Forces” isn’t the type of case that is worth the work.

If you come across a Fake Navy SEAL, Don Shipley is your Senior Chief who makes the greatest video’s on Youtube as his outs his guys.  (This is a rabbit hole of video’s that I highly recommend you watch.  You will laugh at what he does with his wife Diane cracks me up as his comic relief)  Here is one he did on a guy who approached me to get special consideration for his son to attend a Marine Leadership camp.  He flames him hard… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1az20hHol0

His site is listed below.

http://www.extremesealexperience.com/2030.h.PHONY_NAVY_SEALs_Verifications

If you find a Fake Air Force PJ, let me know, I have a connection for those guys who maintains their class lists all the way back to when the Green Feet became the tattoo of choice for those guys.

Scotty over at http://scotty-stolenvaloroffendersexposed.blogspot.com/  always comes up with some great cases where he showcases them for the world to see and well worth the time to read over.

There is a site on Facebook that is pretty popular exposing wannabes as well, https://www.facebook.com/StolenValor.  Flame them all in public…

Now, for my two ultimate hero’s for busting Poser’s, Jonn Lilyea and Mark Seavey who write over at “This Ain’t Hell” (http://thisainthell.us/blog/ ) and expose guys almost daily.  What you don’t realize is the amount of work that goes into researching someone before they flame them.  I might spend a month on a guy before I post anything.  I want to make sure I have all my facts straight.  They also spend an inordinate amount of time collecting photographs from social media and records on a SV turd before it goes live.  Oh by the way, Mark Seavey is now my attorney if you ever want to make a fuss over being butthurt from our exposure.

They also have a Stolen Valor match off that is coming up soon, so keep tuned in and help vote for the worst offenders of 2014.

We have all sorts of tools, resources and manpower to do this and it’s a love that we all have to protect our Military friends both fallen and alive and I could probably do this full time if I could get paid to do it.

I urge you to do your research before you post something to the net, because when the crowd sourcing happens a post goes viral, if you made a mistake, that is one hard thing to erase from the net.  On the other hand, since we can’t charge them with crimes, letting the public see their lies in action is about the only way to have them change their ways by public condemnation.

I hope that this helps, feel free to add your comments on your experiences with posers and I’ll incorporate them to this post.  Here are some posers you might like to read as you go down that Poser rabbit hole.

Semper Fi,

Taco

http://www.thesandgram.com/2013/03/25/a-band-of-brothers-in-search-of-posers/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2012/07/05/americas-got-posers/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2012/02/11/another-marine-poser-pos-bites-the-dust/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2010/04/22/andrew-diabo-busted/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2009/11/14/another-marine-poser-bites-the-dust/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2012/06/18/remember-this-guy-michael-hamilton-poser-pos/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2011/07/03/wrong-place-wrong-crowd-to-show-off-my-bling/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2012/05/02/bobby-thompson-fake-navy-poser-caught/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2010/04/17/another-fake-army-general/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2013/05/28/another-poser-colonel-mike/

http://www.thesandgram.com/2012/06/13/bloaters-the-new-breed/

 

 

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If you are a Poser, you are going down…

February 9th, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | No Comments »

 

This is a great piece by Jonn at “This Ain’t Hell” and it about says it all…

Hack.Stone wrote in the comments how there should be a written document to explain to phonies how to act after they’ve been busted. So, I’ve taken it upon myself, as we gear up for our annual tournament of Stolen Valor, to explain that process to the uninitiated.

First, don’t deny military records. If the records say that you spent 6 weeks in service, don’t try to tell us otherwise. If we’re wrong, provide proof to the contrary. We’ve all been in the military, we’ve all got our DD214s and we know that you have to review your DD214, we know that if your records say you served for six weeks, you have to verify that. Prove us wrong.

Don’t tell us that you’re wearing something to “honor” your father, your brother, your neighbor’s parakeet. If you’re wearing a Ranger Tab, a CIB, an SF Tab, people who see you wearing it are going to believe that you’re saying that you earned it. There is no honor in wearing militaria that you didn’t earn. And your deceased father probably isn’t honored by his gay, hippie son wearing his medals at an anti-war protest.

We don’t believe that your ex-girlfriend or ex-wife hacked your Facebook account. You can always delete the offending photo out of your Wall. We know how that works. And usually, it’s your ex-girlfriend or your ex-wife who told us that you’re rockin’ the lie in the first place. And they probably provided us with your DD214.

You shouldn’t come on TAH and complain that people are picking on you. You wore your phony shit because of your ego. You sent it out to the world so far that we heard your lies, so we’re going to give you the fame that you craved when you put that shit on.

When we use your photos that you posted on Facebook, we’re not “stealing” your “copyrighted” material. There’s a thing in the law called “fair use”, according to FindLaw;

Under the Copyright Act, the fair use of copyrighted material without permission is allowed when used for the following purposes: Criticism, Comment, News reporting, Teaching, includes making copies for use in the classroom, Scholarship and research, Parody

So, you see, if you posted a picture of yourself on Facebook wearing a Medal of Honor, we have the right to use it to prove your false claims.

Even though what you’re doing is not illegal, it’s immoral. In their decision to overturn the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, the Supreme Court, in the case of US v. Alvarez (.pdf), gave us a warrant to hunt you down and bring you to the justice of public opinion when they wrote;

The Government …has not shown, and cannot show, why counterspeech, such as the ridicule respondent received online and in the press, would not suffice to achieve its interest.

Justice Kennedy continues in US v. Alvarez;

The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simpletruth.

[...]

Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse.

[...]

The American people do not need the assistance of a government prosecution to express their high regard for the special place that military heroes hold in our tradition. Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication.

We’re not violating your first amendment protections, mostly because only the government can do that, since the Bill of Rights was written to protect us from the government, not from each other.

Don’t send your wife, girlfriend, partner to the blog to defend you. It only makes you look like the giant pussy you are, hiding behind those skirts of your love interest. In the end, we’re going to win, and you will have to explain to the person to whom you lied why you’re surrendering. And it makes them look gullible and stupid. It’s not their fight; it’s not their place to extract you from the morass that you’ve created for yourself.

We also know that your identity wasn’t stolen when we have pictures of you wearing a uniform, unless the identity thief also stole your face. If we check to see if you’ve filed a police report on the theft of your identity and you haven’t, it makes you look less than truthful.

Yes, we’ve had people dug up after they died because they lied about their service to get a spot in a veterans’ cemetery when they weren’t authorized. So the family’s last memory of their dearly departed was as a lying POS. We’ve also had headstones altered when their Stolen Valor made it to that venue. Come clean with your family before you pass.

Once you’re busted, you should stop pretending. Once you’re on our radar, we’re still watching, and when you put that shit back on your clothes, we’re going to catch you again, more quickly and then we have to go through all of that shit again. So just stop it. We can make arrangements with someone who lives near you willing to take possession of your phony finery to satisfy our own mistrust of your claims to stop being a lying POS.

If you’re emailing or commenting to threaten us with legal repercussions, you’ll be better off emailing our lawyer at seaveyattorney[at]gmail[dot]com because you’re only going to be further humiliated if you do it in the public forum. To save you some typing, charging us with libel or slander is charging us with making false statements. So unless you’re prepared to prove that any of our statements about you are false in court, please refrain from using those terms.

You should also refrain from death and/or physical threats, too. I sleep with a .45 by my bed, I have another .45 in my workspace and I carry a .357 Magnum on my hip at all times. We’ve also watched folks who made threats to us frog marched out of the court room while we giggled uncontrollably.

We’re not ever taking down our posts about you, unless you can prove that we made a mistake. We’re pretty good at identifying forged DD214s, too. Even if we were so inclined, there’s a thing called an “internet cache” over which we have no control. The post that we wrote about you will remain on the internet forever. So begging us to take it down would have no effect even if we felt mercy for you. But that’s not likely anyway. So don’t ask.

The best way to avoid the wrath of public opinion is to not start in the first place. We’re going to catch you eventually, so you’ll always be looking over your shoulder. If you served, be proud that you did what few Americans would, if you didn’t serve, but you want to wear that which other have given their lives and their youth to earn, go sign on the line. Three years of honorary military service is going to be a lot easier than hiding from the pitchfork brigade for a lifetime.

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How to find someone’s record, A FOIA request by This Ain’t Hell

February 4th, 2014 Posted in Military | 2 Comments »

The boys over at This Ain’t Hell have put together a great piece on how to request a FOIA request.  I have copied it over to here but all the credit goes back to Jonn and Mark.  They are and always will be my hero’s, ridding the world of posers one a day.  Sad thing is in this day and age of information, folks still think they can get away with pretending to be someone they are not.  They do this for Ego trips, to scam money, to scam dating sites, to get the attention they never had.  I think they are just truly sick and we have seen them in all different varieties.  One guy pretending to be a Navy SEAL was arrested on rape of a minor.  Some sick folks out there.

S/F

Taco

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http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=39455

OK, so you want to file a FOIA request.  The question arises – what do you need to do that?

Obviously, you need an envelope, some paper (or the appropriate blank form), a pen, and a stamp.  (smile)  You also need some information concerning the individual about whom you’re making the inquiry.

In order to file a successful FOIA request, you’ll need enough information about the individual in question to identify them from among of literally millions of sets of Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) and/or electronic equivalents on file in the archives.  My experience has been that one of the following two sets of info is generally enough:

(A) name (firstname/middle initial/lastname) plus SSN.  If the individual served before their branch adopted the SSN as an ID number – typically before the early 1970s – their old service/serial number (NOT the same as the SSN) should also work.

OR

(B) complete name (firstname/middlename/lastname) plus date of birth

PLUS

(C)  Approximate dates of service (even just something as broad as “early 1980s” or “Vietnam-era”) and branch of service (Army/Navy/USMC/USAF).  If you have the indivdual’s SSN or service/serial number, you might get away with not having this – but I’d include it if it’s available.

Place of birth may also now be required in some cases if not all cases where SSN or Service/Serial Number isn’t available.  Per a recent telephone conversation with one of the records technicians, the Federal records repository that has archive responsibility for veterans’ military records (more on them later) has tightened up their procedures and now requires this if SSN is not available.  If you have the place of birth, it won’t hurt and will definitely raise the chances of your getting a records “hit” – even if it turns out it’s not strictly necessary.

One word of warning:  I would not recommend using unethical or questionable means to obtain SSNs.  In fact, I’d strongly recommend that you do not use unethical or questionable means to obtain SSNs for FOIA requests.  Various jurisdictions have different laws concerning privacy, and you could well be buying yourself a whole lot of legal trouble – civil and/or criminal – if you do that.

A key point to remember is that the name you submit on your FOIA request must be the name under which the person served in the military.  If they served under a variant spelling of their family name (I know of two such cases personally), their records will have that variant spelling.  If they served under an alias – or if they’ve legally changed their name since serving – using their current legal name almost certainly won’t work.  (Yes, this means using a former servicewoman’s married name almost certainly won’t work if she was discharged before getting married.)

Bottom line:  no name match, no “hit”.  I understand the same is true for the SSN or Service/Serial Number – if it doesn’t match the name you submit, you’re probably not going to get a records “hit” either.

If you don’t have all of the items of info listed above, the more verifiable information you have the better chance you have of the veteran’s records being located.  However, be advised you may or may not get a records “hit” with less information than listed above.  And bad info likely guarantees a “miss”, so if you’re not fairly sure of a DOB or POB, best to either omit it or indicate it as being “possible” or “unconfirmed” vice known truth.  (This last point is one reason why I generally prefer using a letter vice the government’s preprinted form when filing a FOIA request.)

Once you’ve gotten the info you need, the next step is to prepare your FOIA request and send it to the appropriate agency or agencies.  The next article covers that.

Once you have the information identified in the previous article, you need to prepare a FOIA request for information concerning the individual in question.

Like most things in the government, now comes the paperwork.  And yeah – there’s a form for that. (smile)

But here, for once you actually have some options.  You can either use the US Government’s Standard Form 180 (SF180) or a letter to make a FOIA request.  Either will work; which you use is a matter of personal preference.  I personally prefer using a letter, as I can tailor the letter to request specific things I think might be of value and which I suspect may or should be in the individual’s records.  But as I said – either works.

Whether you choose to write a letter or use the SF180, there are a number of elements a FOIA request needs to contain.  They’re listed at this National Archives web page.

Here is a format for a letter that I’ve used in the past when making FOIA requests (Word 97-2003 format).  It contains the elements required by the National Archives for such a request, plus some other items that are also very helpful.

If you prefer to use the SF180 for a FOIA request, you can download the current version of the SF180 and use that instead.  It’s available in fillable PDF format here.  You’ll have to ensure you enter the required items for a FOIA request as you fill it out.

If the individual in question is cooperative and will sign the SF180 themselves to allow a copy of their records to be released to you, that’s great.  That should allow you full access to their records.

But IMO, most of the time you probably shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.  (smile)

Otherwise, you’ll have to submit the SF180 without the signature of the individual concerned (you’ll have to sign it instead) or use a letter that you sign.  And without their cooperation, you’ll get only the information from their records that’s publicly releasable.  Don’t worry; for most stolen valor cases, that’s more than enough.

For once, with the SF180 the Federal government did an OK job with a preprinted form.  The form appears reasonably self-explanatory regarding the “how to” of filling it out.  And the explanations on the form answer most common questions.

Unsigned requests – letter or SF180 – are reportedly ignored by NPRC.  Whether you use a SF180 or a letter, don’t forget to sign the request.

Whether using a letter or the SF180, there’s something you need to remember while preparing a FOIA request.  It is critical to include the phrase “I request all information releasable under the Freedom of Information Act” as part of the request. That ensures you’ve actually requested everything that can be released to the public concerning the individual in question’s records.

It generally seems also to be OK to ask for PII-redacted copies (you should indeed specify PII-redacted if you suspect what you request may contain PII) of any specific items you think might be of value – e.g., certificates or orders for any specific decorations that are in question – that aren’t one of the items normally released to the public.  It doesn’t always work, but on occasion I’ve gotten PII-redacted copies of specific orders and other documents that way.

. . .

OK, you’ve got your FOIA request ready.  Now what?

Once you’ve drafted the letter or completed the SF180, the next step is figuring out what agency has the records in question – and thus where to send the request.  Here, you need to know whether the individual served in the Regular Components of the US armed forces (US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, or US Marine Corps), the Federal Reserves (US Army Reserve, US Navy Reserve, US Air Force Reserve, or US Marine Corps Reserve), or the National Guard (Army or Air).

The component(s) in which the individual served can make a substantial difference.  If the individual served in the National Guard, you may need to file multiple FOIAs to get the full and complete picture of their military career.

Service in the Regular armed forces and Federal Reserves (USAR, USAFR, USNR, and USMCR) is always Federal service.  An activity of the US National Archives called the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has the responsibility for archiving personnel records relating to Federal military service.  They assume this responsibility when an individual receives their final discharge from the military or retires.  NPRC is located in Saint Louis, MO.

However, for completeness – to get the “whole story”, so to speak – you may need to file multiple FOIAs on someone who had National Guard service.  They may have done some duty on state vice Federal active duty orders which is relevant to their claims.

This sounds far more problematic than it usually is in reality.  Most questionable claims relate to combat service, combat decorations, or special qualifications.  Any service in combat will be Federal service (National Guard service while mobilized to support combat operations is Federal service); the NPRC should have complete records pertaining to all of an individual’s Federal service, and generally does.  Ditto attendance at most service schools that confer special qualifications (aviation ratings, Special Operations qualification, BUD/S, etc . . . ).

For veterans (e.g., those no longer serving in a Regular or Reserve component, including retirees) with Federal service (active duty and/or USAR/USAFR/USNR/USMCR), NPRC processes FOIA requests regarding military records.  This includes all who have been discharged or retired from any form of Federal military service.  If the individual served in the Regular or Federal Reserves of the armed forces, the FOIA request is sent to

National Personnel Records Center
ATTN:  FOIA Requests
1 Archives Drive
Saint Louis, MO  63138

If you’re in a hurry, you can fax your FOIA inquiry instead.  The fax number is at this link.  The link also gives a different fax number in the event you have an “emergency request” with a deadline; examples given of such emergencies are for funerals and “upcoming surgeries”.  (Yeah, I don’t quite understand that last one either.)

As far as I can tell, NPRC doesn’t accept scanned copies of FOIA inquiries sent to them via e-mail.  Why is a fax OK but not a scanned version of the same original sent by e-mail?  Damned if I know.  If you figure that one out, maybe you can explain it to me.

I can’t stress this enough:  you should always send a FOIA to NPRC, even if the individual claims to have served only in the National Guard.  This is because the individual may also have some Regular or Federal reserve service (or Federal service while in the National Guard – e.g., for training or mobilization) and thus have records at NPRC as well as with their state.  Most National Guardsmen have at least some Federal service for initial training.  Further, a deployment to combat as a National Guardsman will definitely be Federal service for which documentation should be on-file at NPRC.

Bottom line:  if you get a “hit” at NPRC, that will often answer most if not all questions about an individual making suspect claims.  That’s especially true if the claim relates to combat service or combat decorations.

If the individual served in the Army or Air National Guard, you may also need to send a FOIA request to the state (or states) in which the individual served in the National Guard to get the “whole story”.  This is because much National Guard duty is technically state service vice Federal, and the individual states maintain their own records for state service.  This document lists (as of Aug 2013) the proper addresses and contact numbers for National Guard FOIA requests for all US states, DC, and US territories.  The document technically lists Army National Guard FOIA offices, but many states seem to have a combined Army/Air National Guard FOIA office.  If it’s an Army-only office, they should at least be able to give you contact info for their state’s Air National Guard FOIA officials.

. . .

http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=39456

That’s a good stopping point for today.  The next article will cover typical times and potential costs associated with FOIA requests.

Once you’ve received a FOIA reply that’s not a “we couldn’t find anything” letter, you’ll need to figure out what it’s telling you.  Depending on your background and the service involved you may be able to do that yourself. But in many if not most cases, you’ll need to find someone with substantial military experience in the same service and era as the individual in question to assist you in interpreting what it says.

For example:  if the individual served in the USMC during Vietnam, it’s a good idea to get someone with Vietnam-era service (or with an extensive military background) to assist in evaluating the FOIA reply against that individual’s claims.  That individual must be someone who “speaks Marine” and understands USMC records and terms.

I can’t emphasize this enough:  if you can find someone to help you with an extensive military personnel background in the service concerned, you have struck gold.  Their help will be invaluable.  Buy them a drink – or dinner.  (smile)

Specialty experience (e.g, an actual former Special Forces guy if you’re dealing with someone who’s claiming Special Forces status or qualification) may also be very valuable in identifying lies and exaggerations concerning specialty qualifications and service.  “This Ain’t Hell” is also an excellent resource for sorting out FOIA replies – Jonn absolutely hates military fakes, and he can call on a load of expertise to assist in figuring out if a claim might be legit or not.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  No one knows it all.  There’s simply too much to know.

Am I punting here?  Damn straight.  At first, you’ll likely learn something new with at least every other FOIA reply you get relating to a sister service – if not with each one.  And you’ll learn a lot about your own service’s history and practices that you didn’t know before, too.

Unless it’s your service and your era, don’t try to figure it out all by your self; you’re likely to get it wrong.  And even if it is your service and era, no one knows it all.

Ask for help, if for no other reason than to get a second set of eyes on the docs.

Other Considerations and Miscellaneous Thoughts.

1.  To reiterate:  even if an individual claims to have only National Guard service (USMC and Navy don’t have National Guard elements, but Army and USAF do), it’s worthwhile to send NPRC in Saint Louis a FOIA request concerning the individual.  If the individual ever had Federal service while in the National Guard (e.g., for training, was mobilized, or otherwise served on Federal active duty), the NPRC should have records relating to at least that part of their service.  Most National Guard members serve at least a few weeks or months on active duty for initial training, so NPRC should at least have a record of that (not a 100% guarantee, but they should and usually do).  And combat-zone service will be Federal.

In short:  you could get the answer you need from NPRC – particularly if the questionable claim concerns service in combat or a combat decoration – with no need to file a FOIA with the state (or states) in which the individual served in the National Guard.  However, you may still need to file a FOIA with the appropriate state(s) for a National Guardsman to ensure you get the individual’s complete story.

2.  If you’re not sure about the individual’s specific branch of service, it’s probably OK to list several.  For example, if someone tells you they served in the “Army” but doesn’t go into more detail, it’s OK to list their service as “US Army, US Army Reserve, and/or Army National Guard”.  Many people have service in both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve components (USAR and/or ARNG); listing all three may ensure a more comprehensive search.  (The records are supposed to be consolidated, but I’d guess it’s possible that some records don’t get “married up” correctly and a few individuals end up with separate listings for their active and reserve records.)  It shouldn’t hurt to indicate both (or all three).  Ditto if the individual claims to have served in more than one branch of the military (e.g., USMC and Army).

3.  It’s a good idea to be very careful in how you gather information regarding an individual you suspect might be lying about their military service.  Eliciting information from or about them should probably be done carefully so as not to raise suspicion about why you’re asking.  And I can’t stress enough:  I most strongly recommend staying away from anything unethical or illegal in gathering information for a FOIA.  Getting fired, sued, or prosecuted just ain’t worth it.

4.  Depending on circumstances, when the situation allows another tactic that might be useful would be to tell the individual up-front you need to verify his/her claims through official channels and ask him/her to sign an SF180 giving you access to all or part of their military records.  (I really wish journalists would do this.)  If they balk, that may well be a “red flag” indicator they have something to hide.

5.  If you end up “getting the goods” on a fake, I would strongly recommend that you be very careful if/when you confront the person.  I’d recommend you think twice about confronting them in person.  If you elect to do that, I’d very much recommend you do so in a public place – and bring backup/witnesses with you to the confrontation.  If an individual is lying about their military record, they obviously have at least that much about their past to hide; they may have other questionable (or criminal) tendencies or history as well.  The individuals you bring as backup/witnesses may well come in handy in case the individual becomes threatening and/or violent.

6.  A caution about negative replies, which I can’t stress enough:  if NPRC cannot find an individual’s records, be very careful about interpreting their “we can’t find any records” reply.  DO NOT take that “we can’t find those records” as a categorically definitive statement that the individual never served.  If the name and SSN aren’t a match, you will get that answer (I’ve made a couple of typos and gotten a bad result because of doing so).  If you didn’t send enough information to allow a definitive match, you’ll also get that answer.  Ditto if the guy/gal served under another name, or with a different SSN.

Moreover, sometimes the records technicians at NPRC goof, and send back a false negative (that can happen if the records are checked out at the time and the servicing technician doesn’t notice that fact, or otherwise errs).  A post-service legal name change, service under an alias, or the use of a different SSN (legally or otherwise) can also trigger a negative.  And as I noted previously, NPRC is allegedly tightening up their release policies.  I’d guess they sent out a few bad FOIA replies containing info about the wrong individual (that’s happened on at least one FOIA reply I received) and that tightening up policy is their remedy.

Bottom line:  a records “hit” is fairly conclusive.  A “miss” is just that:  a miss.  Unless you had a known correct and complete name and SSN – and are certain that the individual used that exact name and SSN their entire life, including during any service in the military – a records miss is NOT definitive proof of that the individual did not serve.  And even if you had the correct name and SSN and the individual served under than name and SSN, sometime the techs at NPRC goof.  They’re human, too.

7.  However, if a guy/gal says that NPRC can’t find them because their personnel records or decorations are “classified”, that’s pure bovine excrement.  Operations may be classified, but personnel records are not.

Virtually the only classified items found in military personnel records are an occasional classified evaluation – and classified items are very rare.  (Evals also aren’t something you can get information about with a FOIA request.)  Everything else in an OMPF is virtually always unclassified; a placeholder is there in the individual’s records when a classified item that normally should be there is stored elsewhere.  And the placeholder indicates what that item is – e.g., a statement to the effect that the individual has a classified eval.

Decorations aren’t classified.  The justification and/or circumstances surrounding an award might be, but the fact of the decoration itself isn’t.  Ditto for the orders announcing it and the citation.  Those are all unclassified.

8.  I’m not absolutely certain about this, but FOIA inquiries concerning Navy and USMC records for recently discharged veterans seem to me to take a bit longer than others.  While NPRC has archive responsibility for all veteran’s records, since the early 2000s the services have maintained electronic records vice on paper.  The Army gives NPRC access to theirs (I think the Air Force does too) for the purpose of FOIA requests concerning veterans.  The USMC and Navy may not; NPRC sometimes seems to send a FOIA request to the Navy or USMC for action if/when they get a “hit” on recent Navy and USMC records.  Or something else may be going on, or I could be in error.  But that’s my impression.

9.  On very rare occasions, records at NPRC may be incomplete.  This is very rarely the case, but it can happen.  Be careful about publicly “outing” someone who actually has other documentation backing their claims.  If possible, get a copy of that other documentation and have someone who knows what “right looks like” from the time in question take a look at it first.  And if you can’t find anyone who knows what “right looks like” from a particular era, well, TAH often can.  (smile)

Fake documents are usually pretty obvious to someone who knows what “right looks like”.  Lord knows, fake documents appear to be common when it comes to award certificates and DD214s.

10.  Claims that “my records were burned up in the fire” are also likewise BS for virtually anyone who was discharged after the Vietnam War ended – or who served in the Navy or USMC, regardless of when they served.  The NPRC fire occurred in July 1973; it affected almost exclusively records from the Army and USAF.

The records affected by the fire were:

  • Army:  personnel discharged between 1 November 1912 and 1 January 1960 – estimated 80% loss
  • USAF:  personnel discharged between 25 September 1947 and 1 January 1964, with names beginning after “Hubbard, James E.” – estimated 75% loss
  • Virtually no Navy or USMC records were affected by the fire.  The NPRC fire did not affect the portion of the building housing USN and USMC records.  While the precise number is not known, the best estimate of Navy and USMC records affected is that less than 3 dozen USN/USMC records might have been affected (it’s not definitively known that any were; that figure is an upper limit).  These were records that had been removed from normal storage and which might have been in analysts’ desks in the area affected by the fire at the time that the fire occurred.  No Navy or USMC personnel records in routine storage at NPRC were affected.
  • Not all records affected by the fire were destroyed.  Many records were damaged, but were not total losses.  (As I said in an earlier article:  I’ve seen at least one FOIA where the copies of documents from an individual’s records provided with the reply appeared to be singed or burned at the edges.)  A surprising number of records were damaged but were at least partially recovered after the fire.
  • Finally, many individual OMPFs that were lost have been at least partially reconstructed from alternate records sources.

I’ll have more info on the fire in a future article.

Bottom line:  claims that an individual’s records were “destroyed in the fire” are virtually always BS. It’s definitely BS if they were discharged after December 1963, or if they served in the Navy or USMC.  Such claims usually don’t even qualify as a “nice try” when you start asking questions.

11.  Claims that “my records were lost” are similarly almost always bogus.  Do lost records occur?  On rare occasions, yes.  But NPRC stores approximately 57 million military records today (plus over 40 million personnel files relating to former Federal civilian employees).  The odds of that being the case for someone making wild claims of derring-do that are otherwise unsubstantiated and can’t be otherwise documented are, frankly, so close to nil as to be laughable.  And as the 1973 records fire shows, lost records can generally be substantially recovered from other sources.  For starters, DFAS keeps pretty good records of who they paid.  (smile)

12.  Finally:  the articles I’ve written here apply only to veterans who’ve been discharged from all components of the military or who have retired.  If you’re dealing with someone who’s currently serving in the military (either full-time or in the reserve components, including the National Guard), the rules on what you can and cannot find out using a FOIA request are quite different.  The process described above won’t work reliably for those who are still active or reserve military; at best you’ll get a partial answer, and you might get no answer at all.   They also may or may not work if someone has been discharged from active service but still has a military service obligation and is technically still a member of the IRR.  (I think they’ll work under that last scenario, but I’m not positive.)

I don’t have a clue as to how to do a FOIA request for information about someone who’s still serving – or what can be released.  All I know is that the process – and rules about what can be released – are very different.

 

The answer is:  well, that depends.  (smile)

Cost.

It’s theoretically possible you may be charged a fee, and fees can be substantial for extensive requests requiring a great deal of research or copying of documents.

However, it also seems that NPRC generally will waive fees for a simple request from private individuals unless the individual concerned was discharged more than 62 years ago.  From what I’ve seen, most requests for info (e.g., “all info releasable under the FOIA”) for military records less than 62 years old seem to end up being simple requests.

Let me stress the following:  the “magic words” here seem to be that you should indicate that you’re “a private individual making the request for personal, nonprofit use to confirm or refute potentially false claims made by an individual concerning their military service” and that “confirmation or refutation of these claims is in the best interests of the government”.  For requests made using this justification, NPRC seems to waive fees routinely.

I’ve only been asked to pay a fee twice, and both were for records from World War II that were indeed more than 62 years old (those have to be pulled from archival storage, and that fee apparently can’t be waived).  The fee for archive retrieval of records is currently $75 – but for archival records you supposedly get the individual’s complete record.  (Apparently archival records are considered fully public.)  NPRC will notify you up-front before sending anything if the request is archival and the archive retrieval fee is required.

If you’re making the request as a commercial entity, NPRC may not waive the fee.  Journalist and/or prospective employer requests may count as commercial requests.  (If you’re doing a FOIA request for either of those purposes, you might want to consult a lawyer first as to whether or not it should be considered “for commercial purposes”.)   However, even there the simple request (e.g., one that takes less than 2 hrs total time and somewhere around 10 pages duplicated, if I recall correctly – though on occasion I’ve gotten close to 20 pages sent to me gratis) or public good waivers may apply.  Fees can apparently also be waived if providing the information is deemed to be in the public interest.

On all FOIA requests, I recommend you indicate an amount up to which you’re willing to pay.  As noted above, it’s very unlikely you’ll be charged anything.  However, if you don’t indicate an amount, NPRC will assume you’re willing to pay up to $50.00 (and no, I really have no idea how they came up with this number).  They’ll notify you if there’s a cost associated with answering your request.  I can’t remember if they supposedly send a bill after the fact or await payment before sending anything.

I also wouldn’t sweat it much.  As I said previously:  for non-archival requests (records less than 62 years old), I’ve never  been charged a fee.

FOIA requests to individual states for information from National Guard record may have fees charged by the state involved.  Maryland does ($15, if I recall correctly).  The few other states with whom I’ve filed FOIAs don’t seem to charge a fee – but the sample size here is only a handful.  I thus can’t give any general rule for states regarding what to expect regarding fees.  It truly varies “from state to state”.

Bottom line:  most requests will only cost you a stamp plus the time/effort to make the request.  But some will require multiple requests, and once in a great while you might be asked to pay a fee.

Time.

These days NPRC seems to takes about 4-6 weeks typically to answer a FOIA request, but there’s quite a lot of variance – I’ve gotten a “hit” reply once in less than a week (no, I didn’t paperclip any currency to the request), while some have taken 2-3 months or longer.  I can’t really speak for how long National Guard requests should take, as I’ve only ever filed a handful of those and the timing seems to vary widely.

For some reason, Navy and USMC requests concerning recently-discharged vets seem to take longer than others these days.  Not positive why that’s happening, but that’s my impression.

***

What you will get, sooner or later, is a reply to your FOIA request.  (If you don’t, you need to refile it!)

Yeah, I know:  “No sh!t, Sherlock – I figured that much out already.”  (smile)

Seriously – what you will get in the reply to a FOIA inquiry varies.  I’m going to discuss a few common responses you might get from the National Personnel Records Center.  I’m not going to attempt to discuss replies from state National Guard FOIA offices, as (1) I haven’t submitted many of those, and (2) from the few replies I’ve seen, their formats seem to vary.

And on occasion, I still get replies in formats, or with things attached, that I’ve never seen before.  So what follows is definitely not comprehensive.

What You Won’t Get

First, let’s discuss what you won’t get.

You won’t get the individual’s complete OMPF unless they authorized you in writing to receive it (or they’re dead and you’re their next of kin).  The only pertinent exception here is if the record is more than 62 years old (e.g., they’ve been completely discharged from he military for 62 years or longer).  Then, supposedly you get a copy of the individual’s complete file – but you’ll have to pay a fee (see the previous article).

You also won’t in general get anything containing an individual’s PII (e.g., SSN, home of record address, etc . . . ).  Any documents you receive that originally contained PII/other non-releasable information will have that info redacted.  Or at least that info is supposed to be redacted; on rare occasions, NPRC misses something they should redact.  Their clerks are human, after all.

You also won’t get a complete DD214 showing characterization of service and/or reentry codes and “lost time”.  You may (or may not) get a copy of the individual in question’s DD214 (FOIA replies concerning Navy and USMC personnel sometimes seem to include one) – but if so it will have that information redacted.  For some reason, the type of discharge, reentry code, and lost time isn’t considered public record information.  (IMO that info should be publicly releasable, but it’s not.)

What You Will Get

What you will get is a transcription or photocopy (or some of each) of the publicly-releasable information that is contained in the copy of the individual’s OMPF stored in Federal archives.  If other items are specifically requested you may – or may not – get PII-redacted copies of those other documents as well.

Don’t worry.  What you get will generally be sufficient to prove, to a reasonable degree of certainty, whether or not someone is making a false claim of military service, decorations, or qualifications.

In this article, with two exceptions I’ve redacted the names of individuals on documents I’ve used as examples.  The exceptions are ones that were previously posted here at TAH about people we all “know and love”.

Item 1:  The Cover Letter

For a FOIA inquiry submitted to NPRC, you should get at least a cover letter in their reply. I’d recommend keeping this – it has their internal request number on it.  You’ll need that if you decide to file a follow-up request and/or dispute their denial of some information you think is in the file and should be released to you.

The NPRC cover letter will generally be in one of three forms:

(1) A cover letter saying, in effect, “you didn’t send us enough information to find anything”.  Here’s an example.  (Most examples in this article are in Adobe PDF format.)

The key here is caveat in the first paragraph – e.g., that the reply does NOT mean the individual never served in the military.  A reply of this type is not definitive proof the individual on whom you filed the request never served in the US military.

You may get this if you didn’t send NPRC enough information to unambiguously identify the individual in question.   Reportedly NPRC has tightened up their policies recently on what constitutes “enough” information (supposedly they now require complete name,DOB, place of birth, branch of service, and approximate dates of service if SSN is not provided).  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is now their “default” reply when a request has less than the required amount of info – even if the name is something as oddball as “Christophos Constantine Cornholio Polychronopolis”.

(2)  A cover letter that strongly implies the individual never served, but doesn’t outright say that.

IMO, the key here is the part where they say they “conducted extensive searches of every records source and alternate records source at this Center” (or words to that effect).  While not a legally a “slam dunk”, to me this type of reply strongly implies that NPRC had enough information for a definitive match – and found nothing.  IMO, it means that the guy/gal more likely than not didn’t serve UNDER THAT NAME or USING THAT SSN.  However, a post-service legal name change and/or service while using another SSN might still be possible.  It’s also possible that NPRC goofed – e.g., “fat fingered” something when searching for the records.

A second, IMO stronger variant of this type of reply may say that they’ve also checked external entities like the FBI and got nothing.

However, as with the first case – this is also not by itself definitive.  You can’t necessarily rule out service under another name and/or using another SSN.  Or NPRC simply could have goofed – e.g., maybe the person doing the search misspelled the name or reversed 2 digits in the SSN or Service/Serial Number.

(3)  A cover letter saying, in effect, “we found those records”.   Obviously, this is what you want to see.  It’s definitive proof that the individual in question did serve in the US military – and that the Federal archives have records on them.  I’ve seen both one page and two-page variants of this type of letter; both are included here.

On rare occasions, the cover letter may list information about the individual’s assignments, decorations, qualifications, etc . . . . However, in general those items are provided on another attachment or on multiple attachments.

If you asked for specific items they feel they can’t send you without the veteran’s consent or proof that you’re next-of-kin, you may get this variant of NPRC cover letter.  Sometimes asking again and politely explaining that you’re asking for a PII-redacted copy of something that documents publicly-releasable information (like award orders) will help if that’s the case. But if you’re asking for something that’s not releasable to the general public – like the type of discharge – that will almost certainly be a “NO GO”.

Finally, if the records were affected by the 1973 NPRC fire, you may get a cover letter that looks like this.

These aren’t the only possible NPRC cover letters you might see; I keep seeing new versions and variants periodically.  But these or similar variants seem to cover the great majority of cases.  They (or something similar) will probably cover most replies you’ll see.

Item 2:  NA Form 13164

The second item you will see in virtually all cases when NPRC locates the records in question is National Archives Form 13164 (NA 13164).  On rare occasions, the cover letter may contain the information instead – but those are in my experience fairly rare and generally seem generally to come from other sources vice NPRC.  I’ve only seen a handful of those.

Information releasable under the FOIA will be either transcribed to the NA 13164, provided as attachments, or both.  If a person only had a single, relatively uneventful term in the military, the NA 13164 may be all you get besides a cover letter.

The NA Form 13164 looks like this.  (This is an example of where the NA 13164 is all you get besides a cover letter.)

If there are attachments, the NA Form 13164 will look like this, with one or more boxes saying “see attached” or words to that effect.  The attachments should be extra material that expands on (or contains in full) the information for the blocks indicated.

Most of the information provided on the form will be self-explanatory.  Two items that require care, however, are the “Rank/Grade” block and the “Transcript of Court Martial Trial” block.  The former is the rank at time of discharge.  While the rank in the “Rank/Grade” block is generally the highest rank or grade held (or for a retiree, their retired grade), that is not a guarantee. The individual could have served at a higher grade, but been reduced administratively or via court-martial prior to discharge; if so, that fact won’t be noted on the NA Form 13164 (it may be present in or reasonably inferable from other information provided as attachments, but there’s no guarantee that will be the case).

Secondly, an individual who served successfully as an officer but who is administratively reduced during a drawdown and reverts back to enlisted status – or who has a break in service and returns to service as an enlisted guy/gal – retires at the highest grade successfully held.  It’s thus possible for a guy/gal to have a final rank of E6 or E7 on a NA Form 13164 and legitimately retire at an officer grade.  It’s not terribly common, but it does happen.

Lastly, don’t read too much into the comments in the “Transcript of Court Martial Trial” block of the NA 13164.  Common entries are “NA” or “N/A”, “Not applicable”, “Not available”, and “Not in file”, or similar language.  They all seem to be used interchangeably.  In particular, I don’t think “Not in file” or “Not available” implies anything one way or the other about whether the individual was or was not ever tried by court-martial.  I think the term used there is generally due to the personal preference of the technician preparing the request.  Best I can tell, they all seem to mean “there’s no transcript of trial in that file” – and that’s all.

Item 3:  Attachments

Attachments to the NA 13164 are variable as hell.  Typically, they’re PII-redacted portions of documents from the individual’s OMPF – e.g., DA Form 20 or 2-1, USMC “page 3”, redacted orders/award certificates, a photograph, letters, etc . . . .   (On occasion, a USMC or USN FOIA may have a heavily redacted copy of the individual’s DD214 – see this article about the Chippendale SEAL for an example.)

Representative copies of what you might see are provided here:

Example Army attachments.  This is an unusually detailed set of Army attachments.

Example USMC attachments.  This is representative of what’s commonly provided for USMC attachments.

Example very old USAAC/USAF attachments.  Very unusual.  This file was one affected by the 1973 NPRC records fire.  I’d guess these are actually secondary records drawn from other-than-routine sources that were used to reconstruct the file after-the-fact.  (I’ve seen at least one other set of attachments where the photocopied originals literally appeared to have fire damage around the edges.)

Example Navy attachments may be seen in the link earlier in the article regarding the Chippendale SEAL.  That example shows both a redacted DD214 (sometimes the Navy and/or USMC provide one) and a typical Navy attachment.

As you can see from the above, the specific documents provided as attachments will vary from service to service, from era to era, and from request to request.  There really is no way to anticipate what will be attached to the NA Form 13164 – if anything.  I’ve seen photos and certificates of training, letters, award certificates, eval extracts (but not whole evals), and pay book entries.

In short:  the attachments to a FOIA reply are kinda like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates.  You never know what you’ll get.  (smile)

. . . 

Well, that’s it.  I hope the articles in this series have been helpful.  Lord knows, there are enough fakes out there that everyone working to expose them could use help.

http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=39667

Oh the Records Fire…

Many of us have heard something about a “records fire” that destroyed many military Official Military Personnel Files (OPMFs) years ago.  And we’ve also heard some people claim that “my records were destroyed in ‘the records fire’ – and that’s why there’s no record of my <insert award for valor/Special Operations qualification/service here>”.

But many people don’t know much more than the fact that a fire once happened where many military records were stored.  The reality is that liars using the excuse of a “records fire” to justify false claims about their military service are regrettably common.  Such claims are almost always pure bull.

This article will give the facts concerning that fabled “records fire”.  In it, I’ll give some background about the storage activity, its history, and its design – which contributed to the severity of the fire.  I’ll also briefly discuss the fire and its impact.

And, finally, I’ll discuss what records were – and what records weren’t – affected by the fire.  I’ll also provide some references that provide much more detail.

BLUF:  if someone was an Army retiree alive in July 1973; served in the Army after 1959; served in the USAF after 1963; or served in the Navy or USMC – it’s a virtual certainty that their records of service were not affected by the fire.  Any claims to the contrary are pure, unadulterated organic fertilizer of the type produced by male bovines capable of reproduction.

The National Personnel Records Center

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is located in the Saint Louis, MO, metropolitan area.  For years it was located at 9700 Page Avenue (the same address as the US Army Reserve’s Personnel Center – indeed, they shared the same Federal compound).  However, in 2011 NPRC moved to a new, more modern facility.  Their address today is 1 Archives Drive, Saint Louis, MO.

NPRC came into being in 1966.  What follows is an abbreviated history; one of the links at the end of this article provides more details.

Prior to World War II, personnel records for separated Federal personnel – military and civilian – were scattered among literally thousands of locations nationwide.  The dramatic expansion of Federal employment during World War II – particularly military employment, which rose by somewhere around 15 million during the war – pointed out the need for both better management of such records and the need for some degree of centralization.

During World War II, the military services began centralizing their personnel records archives (e.g., those dealing with separated personnel).  The same was also true of Federal civilian personnel records for separated employees.  This process accelerated in the immediate post-World War II period.

The Federal Records Center was created in Saint Louis in the early 1950s.  It’s goal was to consolidate records of former Federal civilian employees.  The military did the same – in the same general area.  In the mid-1950s, a new facility was constructed in Overland, MO (on the west side of what is now the Saint Louis metro area) to house archived military records.  The decision was made to transfer control of this facility – the DoD Military Personnel Records Center (DoD MPRC) – to GSA in 1960 (the FRC had been under GSA since 1951).

By 1966, the FRC and MPRC had effectively completed their records consolidation roles.  That year, the decision was made to combine these activities into a new entity – the National Personnel Records Center, or NPRC.  At the time, the NPRC remained under GSA.  (The National Archives and Records Administration – NARA – was not created until1986; the US National Archives and NPRC now both fall under NARA.)

The Facility

The facility housing the former DoD MPRC was built for the Army in the 1950s.  It was a huge, 6-story, relatively open building – measuring 283′ by 728′.  It was transferred to NPRC when NPRC was created in 1966.

When completed, the facility had neither sprinkler systems nor internal firewalls.  The lack of sprinkler systems was the result of a debate within the records management and archive community when it was constructed (mid-1950s) regarding whether sprinkler systems posed more risk of damage to records in storage than did fire.  The “no sprinkler” side won the argument, and the facility was built without them.

In one of the great ironies of history, the same year the building was completed (1956) the Federal government decided that the risk of fire was indeed greater, and mandated that all new records storage facilities have sprinkler systems.  Existing facilities were apparently “grandfathered”, however, and a sprinkler system was not installed at the facility prior to 1973.

The lack of internal firewalls, however, was IMO both inexplicable and inexcusable.  Regardless of whether or not sprinkler systems were used, fire was a foreseeable danger.  Internal firewalls IMO damn well should have been included as a design feature in order to limit damage in case of fire.

In essence, in July 1973 the building was a huge, 6-story warehouse.   At the time of the fire it was mostly filled with filing cabinets full of paper records – far more than originally expected (space was becoming an issue).  Unfortunately, the Federal government was to find out the hard way that installing sprinkler systems and having internal firewalls would have been damn good ideas.

The Fire

The fire at NPRC began sometime during the night of 12 July 1973. The precise cause was never determined due to the degree of damage in the area of origin.  Evidence indicated that smoking could have been the cause, as cigarette butts were found afterwards in some trash cans at the facility.  However, spontaneous combustion is also a possible cause.  Saint Louis gets quite hot in July, and the upper floors of buildings tend to get the hottest.  Hot paper in storage can under some conditions generate enough internal heat to begin to slowly smoulder – and after a while smouldering, to burn.

At just after midnight on 12 July 1973, the first reports of smoke were called in to the local fire department.  The first firefighters were on the scene in a very short period of time – less than 4 1/2 minutes.  They indeed found a fire on the 6th floor of the building.  Unfortunately, they were unable to contain the blaze.

By 3:15AM, firefighting efforts on the 6th floor had been abandoned due to smoke and intense heat; they would be unable to reenter the 6th floor for nearly 2 days.  By 4:15AM, the entire 6th floor was involved; crews were pulled from the building approximately 5:00AM.  However, through strenuous other firefighting efforts, fire damage was contained to the 6th floor.

The fire burned out of control for 22 hours.  At that point, the fire was brought under control  The fire was not declared out by firefighting authorities until sometime during the day on 16 July 1973.  In total, firefighters from 42 local fire districts had participated in the firefighting effort.

The Damage

The damage to archived military records held by NPRC was extensive.  Between 16 and 18 million military personnel records for separated military personnel are believed to have been destroyed.  Roughly 6.5 million other OPMFs were damaged – either by the fire directly, or by the huge quantities of water used to extinguish the fire – but were later recovered.

A variety of means were used to preserve and restore damaged records.  Critical records – an index of the facility’s holdings on magnetic tape, and 100,000+ reels of microfilm containing USAF and US Army morning reports from 1912-1959 -  were removed during the fire.  Though some degradation of this film had occurred in storage, approximately 95% of it was useable.  By lucky coincidence, it also happened to correspond to the area that was most affected by the fire.  Alternate sources – including claims records on-file with the VA, individual state records, Selective Service Records, pay records, and military medical records – were used to reconstruct records of service that had been destroyed in the fire to the maximum degree practicable.

Not all records affected by the fire were destroyed; many were damaged but either completely or partially recovered.  Damaged records were not discarded, but were dried and placed in special storage.  Recovery efforts continue today.

Still, the damage was extensive.  The facility’s 6th floor was a loss (the roof had collapsed, and external walls had begun to lean outwards).  It was later removed; afterwards; the building was only 5 stories tall.

However, the records destroyed were the primary loss.  These losses were:

  • Army Records:   Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960 – 80% loss
  • USAF Records:   Personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.) – 75% loss

A handful of Navy and USMC records (3 dozen or fewer) might have also been affected.  The fire did not affect the area of NPRC storing Navy and USMC archival records, and no Navy/USMC records are known with certainty to have been affected.  However, it’s estimated that no more than 3 dozen Navy/USMC OMPFs in archival storage might – I stress, might – have been out of normal storage at the time and on analyst desktops in the area burned. Any Navy/USMC records that were out of storage and in analyst workspaces in that area at the time of the fire could have been destroyed.

Reportedly, records for then-living Army retirees were also not affected.  These records were reportedly still maintained by the nearby Army Reserve Components Personnel and Administration Center, which was not affected by the fire.

In short:  many irreplaceable records of Army and USAF service during World War I, World War II, and Korea were lost.  While a substantial amount was recovered from alternate sources, much of America’s individual military history – and the irreplaceable original documents containing it – relating to those conflicts literally went up in smoke.

The Stolen Valor “So What”

That’s what happened.  But for potential stolen valor cases, what does this mean?  Here’s my analysis.

1.   If someone served in the Navy or USMC, it’s a virtual certainty that their records were not affected by the fire.  At most, 3 dozen or fewer OPMFs for discharged Navy/USMC personnel in archival storage might have been affected.  None are known to have been destroyed.

2. If someone was a US Army retiree living in July 1973 – their records were not unaffected by the fire.  Records for living US Army retirees were reportedly still being stored at the nearby US Army Reserve Components Personnel Command (then the US Army Reserve Components Personnel and Administration Center) at the time. (See paragraph 26.a, page 2-E-2, in the last reference below.)

3.  If someone served in the Army in Vietnam, their records of service in Vietnam were not affected.   No US Army records relating to personnel discharged after 1959 were destroyed in the fire.  The same is true of US Navy and USMC personnel, but for a different reason – see first above.

4.  If someone served in Vietnam in the USAF in Vietnam, there’s only a very slim chance that their records were affected. However, for that to be possible they’d have to have (1) served in the USAF in Vietnam between 15 November 1961 (start of 1st USAF-recognized campaign for the Vietnam Service Medal) and 1 January 1964 (last date of USAF records affected by the fire), (2) been discharged from the USAF before 1 January 1964, and (3) had a last name alphabetically after “Hubbard, James E.”, for that to be possible.  No USAF records relating to personnel discharged after 1 January 1964 were affected.  Even then, it’s a stretch.  That’s a rather small fraction of the number of airmen who served in Vietnam.  End of year troop strengths in Vietnam in 1961-1963 for all services were 3,025, 11,300, and 16,300, respectively.  Most of these personnel were US Army soldiers.

5.  Anyone who first joined the US military during the last 50 years claiming that their records were “destroyed in the fire” is a damned liar.  The newest records destroyed by the fire were from 1963.

Bottom line:  if someone served in World War I, World War II, or Korea – the fire might have affected (or destroyed) their records.  But if they served in Vietnam?  Only if they served there in the USAF between 15 November 1961 and 31 December 1963 is that a possibility.  Even then, as noted above that’s highly unlikely.

And anyone making that claim who served after 1963 is a damned liar.

References

The following links provide further information about NPRC, the 1973 Fire, and it’s aftermath.  They were used in the preparation of this article, either as background or as direct sources.

http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/history.html

http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Personnel_Records_Center_fire

http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/nprc-fire.pdf

http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=120446

http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2011/fall/nprc.html

http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2013/July%202013/box071213records.aspx

http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/03/the-national-personnel-records-center-fire-of-1973-not-everything-was-destroyed.html

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/searching-for-treasure-at-military-records-center/article_ed6db9a4-268e-5a67-ab3c-d1df72c1aef2.html

http://todaysdocument.tumblr.com/post/55293539712/the-fire-at-the-national-personnel-records-center

http://www.stripes.com/news/the-painstaking-effort-to-recover-millions-of-burned-military-service-records-1.233869

http://www.benefits.va.gov/warms/docs/admin21/m21_1/mr/part3/subptiii/ch02/ch02_sece.doc

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SLCDA 2013

January 29th, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | 1 Comment »

20130723-SLCDA13-77 20130723-SLCDA13-78 20130726-SLCDA13-12220130723-SLCDA13-114 20130723-SLCDA13-116 20130725-SLCDA13-135 20130726-SLCDA13-128 20130726-SLCDA13-129 20130726-SLCDA13-132Here are some great shots from that awesome week

 

20130722-SLCDA13-22 20130722-SLCDA13-50 20130723-SLCDA13-78 20130725-SLCDA13-63 20130725-SLCDA13-65

Graduation from Parris Island

January 14th, 2014 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | 4 Comments »

This is part of a book my friend and former Marine DI is writing.  I love Ken’s work and can’t wait until the book arrives.  So keep and eye out for Ken Capps and his next book.

 

Parris Island, South Carolina
June 2004
 
GRADUATION EVE
 
The night before graduation, Schulz dismissed all three of his junior drill instructors, and an hour before final lights-out, he exited the duty hut and walked among his platoon. He’d left his Smokey on his desk in the duty hut. Quietly he called his men to the quarterdeck, a large open area in front of the duty hut, and asked them to, “please gather ‘round.” Not an order, not a command, but a respectful plea to a group he respected. The platoon stood shoulder to shoulder in a tight formation with just enough room between them to sit cross-legged on the deck if told.
            “At ease, at ease,” Schulz began as he motioned with both hands palms down in a gentle pushing motion. “I want to start by saying thank you for voluntarily enlisting into the world’s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps, and coming here to keep me entertained these last seventy-three days.”
            Sensing the relaxed atmosphere, the platoon broke into laughter, which slowly tapered off as Schulz held up his hand to continue his speech.
            “I am proud of you. Each and every one of you came here knowing that you are about to step into harm’s way. For two hundred twenty-nine years, brave men like you have stepped forward to join a brotherhood which stands against tyranny, for justice, and with pride—representing those who cannot stand or fight for themselves . It’s been tough on you, I know. It was tough on me when I was in your boots, and that is now something we share in common. This is my Marine Corps, and you can’t come in unless you measure up, unless you pass the test … or this would just be a daycare.”
Laughter broke out again. Schulz extended his arms and pointed at the young faces before him in sweeping motions. “And thanks to all of you for allowing me the joy of passing on the tradition of my Marine Corps to you.
            “You now all share two birthdays that will define you for the rest of your life. November 10, 1775, the birthday of your Corps, and June 18, 2004, tomorrow, the day you officially become Marines. But tonight before you spend your very last night together as a platoon, before you close your eyes, remember this place and what you have learned. The sound of your boots striking the ground in unison as one, like thunder.”
His voice rose to a crescendo as he lifted his chin, clenched his fists, and closed his eyes. The platoon roared in response to his obvious emotions conjoining with his words. Slowly, the roar of the platoon faded and calmed, but Schulz was still bathing in the moment, as he lowered his chin and opened his eyes.
            “No matter if you stay in for one more day or retire after thirty years, you are a Marine forever. Take what you have learned here and use it to better your lives.”
The platoon soaked in every word and could barely contain their emotions at his candid, fatherly words. They patted each other on the back and let out the occasional Ohhh-rah . Their normally stone-faced visages softened in the moment as they smiled in satisfaction at this—their moment. And more of that to come tomorrow.
            “It is my honor to embrace you as my brothers, as Marines.”
            At the completion of Schulz’s speech, the squad bay erupted into an explosion of sounds that blasted through the windows and reverberated off the bulkheads louder than thunder, perhaps louder even than combat. It continued while Scholz waded his way through the crowd of smiling faces to shake the hands of each and every Marine in his platoon. He was proud of them all.
            The euphoria lasted well after lights-out as the fledgling Marines milled about, talking and spending just a few more moments trying to cut the edge of the excitement down enough to fall asleep.

Veterans Day, hanging with Hero’s

November 11th, 2013 Posted in The SandGram v1.0 | 3 Comments »

Veterans Day weekend is a busy one.  It falls on the Marine Corps Birthday weekend so usually I have to block off the whole weekend for the many different events going on around the Metroplex.

We had the Young Marine Ball on Saturday night with RV Burgin as the Guest Speaker for the kids.   Now there is a guy you just love to hear speak.  He spent the better part of two years slugging it out in the Pacific war.

One of his Marines wrote a famous book called “With the old Breed” detailing much of their time over in the Pacific.  Years later he finally got around to writing his book, “Islands of the Damned” which I really enjoy reading because it’s a view that you normally don’t get.

One of the things I do is to deliver Marine Birthday cake to a few Marine Shut-ins after our ceremony.  It reminds them of their proud heritage when I show up in my Dress Blues to bring the cake by.

Dan Burnham is from my church and has served in every branch of the service over a 30 year period.  His time in the Marine Corps was during Korea when he was attached to the 1st Regiment, 1st Marines from 1952-3.  He was on the Soul Corridor with only six minutes of ammo for his 4.2 mortars to fend off any attacks.  Dan is a tough fire plug of a guy and I’m betting even tougher back then.

dan

My other local hero is Bill Stanbery.

bill

I’m friends with his son and grandson a current Marine Officer (a family we love) and I love to hear Bill’s stories from when he joined the Corps in March of 1944.  He fought in Saipan and Okinawa with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th MarDiv followed by stints with 2nd MarDiv and the 3rd Amphibious Corps.  Because of his Italian heritage, he was marked “PTO” which was Pacific Theater Only.

Bill gives a lot of credit to the Marine Corps for shaping him and making him the man is today.  It’s those lessons in life that carried over to his time during the Korean War a few years later.

A friend got Bill to sign up with the local Army Reserve unit (extra drill money) but when Korea kicked off, he found himself with the Army’s 24th Divisions G-2 unit.  His claim to fame it being the third set of boots to be in Korea 26 May 1950 with KMAG.

This is where it gets interesting.  Later on the North Koreans are running the Army units down this road and Bill is sent up to destroy a couple of artillery pieces that were left behind.  He had to go spike the breeches so they couldn’t be used against them.

After the last one, he took some white Phosphorus in left arm as it blew up.  This didn’t feel good and with the Koreans a mile behind them, shooting at them, he didn’t have time to worry about it.   As he and his crew were racing down this road, he noticed a Soldier prostate on the side of the road.

Bill wasn’t about to let the Koreans desecrate his body as they rolled past so he ordered the driver to stop.  The Driver, AJ complained that they didn’t have time for this dead guy.  Bill told him “We don’t leave our brothers behind” something that was ingrained in his brain from his past Marine Corps Days.

When he reached down to pick up this dead body, he realized the Soldier was still alive.  So instead of strapping him across the hood like he planned, he held his body as the M-8 scout car raced down the hill.  When they arrived at the local MASH unit, the Doctor said “You should have left him, there’s nothing we can do for him.”  That didn’t go over well with Bill and he asked where the next hospital was.  Getting directions, his driver raced them to the next place through miles of bad guy land while getting shot at.

Arriving at this hospital, he went in to find a Doctor.  This Colonel came out and looked over the Soldier and while he agreed that the other doctor was out of line for telling him to leave the body, there wasn’t much they could do, he had lost a lot of blood.  Bill found out when kind of blood he needed so he stopped a transport truck with 10 replacements in it and got 8 of them to jump out to give blood.  He returned with the bodies for blood donations and asked the Colonel if he would operate on him now?

The Colonel said he would do his very best and “Oh by the way, what is your name Soldier?”  Bill said “Sgt Bill Stanbery Sir”

Now fast forward to February of 51, Bill gets sent home on Emergency leave for his dying father (a WWI Vet) and you can imagine the stuff that he had endured up to that point before he left.  After the funeral, he returns to Japan to rejoin his unit.

Standing there in the Admin shop, the desk Sergeant calls “Next” with all the flair of a DMV wait line.  When Bill puts his orders down on the desk, the Sgt turns white.  Bill looks at him asks “Sgt, are you ok? You look like you have seen a ghost.”

The Sgt, Archie Mimes, looks up at Bill and says, “No I’m looking at an Angel.  Do you remember saving a Soldier on the side of the road? That was me.”

Bill was shocked that he had made it.  Sgt. Mimes calls out his Capt and Bill tells the story to him.  The Captain was shaking his head and said “Here I have heard that story a few times and thought it was embellished some, but wow, it really did happen. “

He then looked at Bill and asked “Do you really want to go back to Korea?”  Bill, very humble, says, “That is what my orders say, but I’d rather not.”

The Captain and Sgt Mimes have a little talk and next thing you know, Bill is working on the G-2 Staff there at Camp Drake in Japan.

Years later, he is going up before a  re-enlistment board.  As he is sitting in the chair in front of a few Officers and SNCO’s, they are waiting on the head of the board to arrive.  When the Colonel walks in, he see’s Stanbery and says “Hello Sgt Stanbery, what are you doing here?”  Bill doesn’t recognize him and replies that he is here for the board.

The Colonel turns around and says, “Gentlemen, I served with Sgt Standbery over in Korea and if there is a man among us, he is.  I think this meeting is over, thanks for coming out Sgt Stanbery.”

That was the Doctor who was able to save Sgt Mimes life in 1950.  Thanks to a dedicated Soldier and Former Marine.

 

We live in a small world and your actions have reactions, both good and bad.  Bill lives on the side of the line where I aspire to make the type of good decisions that he would make in tough situations.  So next time you are facing a hard choice (hopefully not with bullets hitting the dirt all around you as you struggle with a limp body) ask yourself, “What would Bill do?”

 

Semper Fi and Thanks to all the Vets past and present!!

Taco

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