Dignified Journey home,
Colin Kimball, a local artist asked me if I could handle transporting a beautiful painting of a fallen Warrior, Sgt Merlin German up to DC to the Wounded Warrior Regiment where they are going to dedicate the call center in his name. We just had a conference this weekend and my right hand man, 1stLt Jose Valle volunteered to take Sgt German back to Quantico for us.
Now this isn’t a small painting and I wanted to make sure that Lt. Valle made it though security and on the plane in one piece with Sgt. German in tow.
I contacted the two pilots on the flight, Rex and Steve and explained the situation and just wanted to ensure that this painting made it on the flight with 1stLt Valle. They both emailed back right away about taking care of this special cargo to DCA. It’s nice to see things click together and Godspeed to a great Marine!!
Well, the check-in at AA was made super smooth when a wonderful AA employee named Cathy (gate agent at C24), helped Jose at the ticket counter (she was a mature lady with a Kevlar helmet, rifle, and boots the symbol of a fallen hero on her left breast. She went above and beyond the call of duty.) She basically helped these two Marines navigate TSA and make it to the gate where Jose and the painting were accommodated on the flight up to DCA with the dignity that this fallen warrior deserves. I have little doubt that without the express coordination provided by Rex and Steve, along with Cathy, this might not have gone so smoothly. The Cabin crew treated Lt. Valle like Royalty all the way to DCA as well. Knowing this outstanding modest Marine, it made him blush a bit but being a former Gunny, I know what the metal his heart is made of, he would do this for a Marine any day and twice on Sunday. I’m honored to serve with a man of his caliber.
These kind acts for a Serviceman (no matter what the branch) go above and beyond and this painting of young Sgt German, a portrait of how he should look, will live on forever thanks to the awesome employee’s of American Airlines, a great young 1st Lieutenant, Jose Valle and the humble artist, Colin Kimble who expresses his love for our guys through a paint brush.
Who is Mat Best and why does he make me laugh?
I am a Marine…nothing special, just a KC-130 puke who carried gas and cargo around the world. Many times I had the chance to haul SEALs, Recon and PJ’s who would jump out of our planes into the dark with bat suits and GPS (back in the 90’s when we used sextants) all gear way before its time. Yes utmost respect for anyone who jumps out of a great plane…
As military guys we all speak a different language that the average person doesn’t understand. Our verbiage is cloaked with weird sounding terms that can put my wife’s face into an instant glaze as she relives her favorite “Desperate Housewives” episode in her head.
She claims that when a group of my brother Marines get together, it’s like we slip into some foreign tongue that no one else can understand. I think she’s right and I have to curb what I talk about for the most part around her.
I guess that is why Mat Best and his crew of brothers in arms accompanied by his hot sidekicks make me laugh. He takes all that is good from the different services and tweaks them into pure self-deprecation, highlighting the flaws we all see from the outside.
These videos are made by Vets and understood by Vets, especially the inner service rivalries between the different branches and the Special Operations within each one. I’m sorry that this won’t resonate with the average American who doesn’t understand our lingo, but if you watch these, you might catch the subtle nuances that make the rest of us cry laughing…
If you have served in any branch of the Military, then I highly recommend about an hour’s worth of your day for the best “Time Sniper” YouTube channel out there. They are guaranteed to make you laugh your ass off (he is insanely funny) and it will be followed by links being sent to your buddies. I am going to buy some of their shirts only because they entertained me so much, it was worth it!
So Mat, if you read this, even though you make fun of the Corps…I’m thick skin and say produce more!! Hell, you want some British Armour, we can provide that for you as well.
Here are some links for you to start out with…
and my favorite funny bust on everyone…
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include his Raps…
The Little Angel:
Once upon a time, many moons ago in a far distant quadrant of Texas, there was a young man. This young man was living in a Bachelors Officers Quarters (like an apartment building) with about 100 of his favorite buddies while they were attended flight training in Corpus Christi.
Corpus was next to the ocean and you always had a constant sea breeze blowing across the expanse of the base bringing with it, the smell of the sea. From our rooms, we could watch airplanes take off, knowing they would fly over the “Whataburger” followed by a left turn to proceed to the different working areas. Our days were busy prepping for the next class or flight but then something entered my life.
It was December and the anticipation of going home for Christmas was infecting everyone. One day, walking by the front desk to see if I had any mail, I noticed a box full of letters. I asked the young clerk what these letters were all about. He said that school children had written them and mailed them out for a school project and somehow they ended up here at our base in Texas.
These letters were from all over the place. I figured that if a child took the time to write us, we should at least write back. This was 1989, way before the wars and back when a letter addressed to Any Marine or Sailor would find its way into a box like I was looking at.
It was in the late afternoon and I grabbed 30 letters from various places. Sitting in my plastic chair outside of my room with a beautiful sunset dropping down, I began to open and read these letters. Some were pretty funny, written in clear concise thought patterns only a 7 to 8 year old could come up with like “Sorry you have to be away from home for Christmas, but it’s really cool you get to drop bombs on bad guys, hope you don’t die, Merry Christmas.”
I started writing back to these kids when my brothers in arms began shuffling by. Of course the subject of the letters came up as I showed them the really funny ones. Pretty soon, I was left with only five letters as the rest were picked up with promises of writing the owner back to thank them.
That started off a pen pal relationship with a young second grader from Hopkinton Mass named Mary Elizabeth who was about 8 years old at the time. Hers was a simple card that said “Wishing you a bright and beautiful Christmas” with her homeroom in there and address. I wrote her back and I’m sure that it surprised the heck out of her.
From 1989 to 1995 we wrote back and forth and I watched her grow from a young outgoing Elementary to a smart young 7th grader. I even had the chance to meet her and her awesome parents in Washington DC one year. We lost touch when I moved back from Okinawa Japan to the states and only just recently reconnected with her on Facebook after all these years. I’m so proud of that little girl who started supporting a Marine with cards and letters and can only hope my children follow in her footsteps.
I encourage you to get your kids involved supporting out troops with letters of support like Mary-Elizabeth gave me. She posted a simple one liner on my timeline (Happy veteran’s day! Thank you for your service to our country!) And I know the heartfelt love that she feels for our Military still and makes me so proud to have served all these years. She and many others like her (i.e. young kids, Jake and Emily) are the Americans who we defend and this outpouring of support makes it all worth it! Thank you again M-E and thanks to all who have supported me and our troops over the years.
Mary-Elizabeth, sorry to embarrass you, but you are an inspiration that I will pass on my children. God Bless and Semper Fi,
Andrew “Andy” Diabo update.
I can’t believe it. Andrew’s wife showed up in 2013 at the Warren County NJ Farmers Fair with their son and she is back in the area again this year over in Bucks County PA and Frenchtown NJ.
Of course they are minus Andy, who according to Evelynn is still running secret covert ops over in Afghanistan for the Marine Corps and may have a few trips into Iran as well who knows.
I’m not sure if she really believes this stuff or if she is a co-conspirator in this elaborate scheme to defraud folks of their money. The evidence is there that her husband Andrew NEVER served in the Marine Corps (he’s Canadian and you have to be a citizen to be an Officer) was never a pilot in the Corps, was never wounded, never attended West Point, never received the Silver Star or Purple Heart and has never stepped foot in Iraq or Afghanistan, so how can she believe this stuff? I wonder what her parents are thinking as she continues to spew this stuff? If this was my child, I might consider one of those groups who will whisk you away to be deprogrammed.
Anyway, Andrew Diabo may be claiming to be a secret agent over there in Malaysia, working undercover for the US Gov’t. Knowing his M.O. he might be scamming money off of relatives from the missing Malaysia 370 flight.
If any of you reading this has ties with the Gov’t over there, you might want to alert them that he is there and might be tied to illegal activities much like he was in the United States.
Folks in the NJ and PA area might want to have your guard up and consider who you are dealing with…
Christopher David Duke
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…
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?”
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…
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
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)
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.
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.
Crazy Fight Suit Law suit.
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??
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
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.
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
Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win USPTO# 85279648
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)
Other former military folks have trademarked the following common use terms:
“Wingman” USPTO #3652339
“Knock-it-Off” USPTO# 7794852
The classic U.S. Navy Blue Angels saying “Glad to be Here” by one of their own, former Blue Angel John Foley
Link to Flightsuit Trademark: http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85…e=statusSearch
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?
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.
Going down the Poser Rabbit hole
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.
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.