Recently, I was introduced to the YouTube channel of Don Shipley, a former Navy SEAL who spends a great deal of his time exposing people who pretend they were Navy SEALs (as well as fake veterans in general). Shipley cracks me up. And he's awesome.
I despise frauds. Particularly these frauds. You want to brag about having been in the military? Then join the military. You want to brag about having been in special operations? Then try out and make a special operations unit or team. Seriously.
Anyway, I've decided to rant about three personal experiences I've had with "fake soldiers," just to share. I won't name names (I actually don't know two of them), but I'll tell you how it all went down.
First, though, let me tell you that I'm a veteran. I have just over 9 years of total military service. And let me tell you that my military career was pretty uneventful. I didn't do anything significant or of consequence. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened while I was in. I was, effectively, a glorified janitor at times and a glorified clerk at other times. That's about the gist of it.
That out of the way, let's get on to the show.
The first dude was innocent enough. It happened in Wilmington, North Carolina. A young aspiring film effects guy who, as we were helping a buddy of mine with a commercial for a website, happened to notice a C-130 flying by. He looked up and mentioned that he used to push air drops out of those things. I asked when. He replied, "With the Army."
Now, this kid was young. He was overweight. He had hardware sticking out of his lips, nose, and other parts of his face. None of those are necessarily disqualifiers for having been a veteran by themselves, but all three in the form of one dude certainly piqued my curiosity. Keep in mind that, at the time, I had fairly long hair (nobody pegs me for being a veteran).
I asked if he was a paratrooper. He said no. I asked if he went to AALPS (which is the Army course that teaches how to load an aircraft). He had no clue what that was. So, finally, I asked him when he was in the fucking Army while letting him know that I'd served. He seemed incredulous, then fessed up immediately that he'd been on a C-130 once. While in high school. As an Army JROTC cadet. And he got to touch a door bundle before real crew chiefs and jumpmasters pushed it out of the plane.
The next dude surprises even me a bit. This guy really is a veteran. A Purple Heart recipient, at that. He is Ranger qualified (no small feat) and served in a LRS (long-range scout) unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He's also someone who doesn't like me very much, so he let it be known that he was a former Delta Force operator who was looking to kick my ass. Delta Force. The American version of the SAS. Bad-asses of the bad-asses.
A fight did occur between us. I elbowed him in the neck and threw him into a table. In less than two seconds. Sorry, but any real Delta Operator would've fucked me up before I even knew what hit me. Not only that, he claims that there's "no such thing as a declassified identity," and that the military calls it a "debrief." Uh, yeah... two different animals, moron. Google Valerie Plame or any other operative or operator whose identities have been made public. Ooh... what's the term they use? Yeah, "declassified."
All that aside, it's the final guy on my list that really gets me going. This also happened in Wilmington, North Carolina, at a bar by the beach (actually, it was Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, but close enough). One of my old soldiers and good friends was down for a visit from Fort Bragg, and we were enjoying a few drinks in the summer heat. To my right was an older fellow, fairly stocky, certainly loud as all get-out, wearing a sleeveless shirt with "Navy SEAL" emblazoned on the front of it.
Well, I've got mad respect for SEALs (and Green Berets, and Operators, and...) and I wanted to strike up a conversation. So I asked, "You were a SEAL?"
His response: "No, I got this shirt at a fucking gas station."
Yeah, it was heavy on the sarcasm, like I was some fucking moron. But I happen to be a moron who can spot a faker from a mile away. So I followed up with another question: "When were you in Coronado?"
Before I share his response, Coronado (for those who don't know) is where BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL) training takes place. Every SEAL goes there. Every SEAL's gone there for years. I grew up in the area. That's how I know this.
Where was I? Oh, yeah... his response: "Where?" I repeated to ensure that he heard me. I don't think the idiot's ever even been to San Diego.
So, I tapped my buddy on the shoulder and informed him we had a fake SEAL in our midst. Oddly enough, some of the other patrons in the bar were marines from Camp LeJeune enjoying some time off. Even better, the fake SEAL had been hitting on some woman who, obviously, suddenly became unimpressed.
Sorry for such an unorganized rant. But these jerks piss me off.