View Full Version : Her Father Is a Phony SEAL

02-08-04, 09:31 AM

Guest Column: Her Father Is a Phony SEAL

By Mark Divine

I looked at the email request from Christine. If I had a dime for every email I answered about the SEALs, I could have retired long ago.

Since launching the website NavySEALs.com in 1996, I have served as an unofficial Internet recruiter for the Navy, helping hundreds of young men gain information and insight through the process of obtaining orders to BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) training. The training is a six-month program, from which prospective SEALs must graduate (only one in five do).

Other inquiries come from students looking for assistance with school research projects, or to settle a bet. Those requests usually read, “My buddy and I argued over which is the toughest Special Operations forces. I said SEALs. He said Delta. Which is it?”

But this email was different. As I read, I had a sinking feeling. This was not the first time I’ve been asked this question, but it doesn’t get any easier. Christine wrote: “Hi, Mr. Divine. My name is Christine and my father was a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. He does not say much about his SEAL days, except that he did a lot of top secret missions that he can’t talk about. I am very proud of my dad, and would like to find out some information about what he did with the SEALs. Can you help me?"

Sounds simple enough. Dad is a Hero to most kids. And a dad who was a SEAL is downright legendary to those who learn about the origins of the once secret Navy commando force and their tremendous record of success in Vietnam and beyond.

The sinking feeling was from a problem about which Christine is unaware but something I know well. My concern is about the impact the truth will have on Christine’s view of her father that caused me to search my heart before responding.

You see, Christine’s Dad was never a SEAL. He is a fraud. A Fake. A Phony. And a loser for lying to his precious daughter.

To ensure I was right, I sent her father’s name to AuthentiSEAL, which tracks Phony SEAL sightings. Retired SEAL Steve Robinson, who wrote No Guts, No Glory, the book on SEAL phonies (which details many of the approximately 10,000 fake SEALs the group has identified to date) confirmed my initial suspicion. The list is definitive and includes every man who has graduated from BUD/S since the beginning of time, before they were called SEALs, but were known as Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Teams.

Christine’s dad was not on the list. No mistake had been made by AuthentiSEAL. He was not part of some super-secret SEAL group working so deeply undercover that the Navy destroyed the records to protect his identity. Put simply, he was a fraud.

When she learns the truth, Christine’s reaction will certainly be denial. Then anger, then acceptance and, hopefully, forgiveness, if he comes clean. If he perpetuates the lie, he will do even more damage to his family and drive a wedge of mistrust a mile wide between them.

Why did Christine’s dad lie to her about something he did during Vietnam, claiming to be an elite Navy Commando?

I have long wonder why so many need to create falsehoods about experiences so easily debunked – Medal of Honor recipients, Green Berets, Rangers, Marine Recon, PhDs – then perpetuate the lie for years and even defend them when called to account?

I don’t have the answer, but phony claimants anger veterans who paid the real price of admission. Particularly brutal are the consequences to relationships where trust is imperative, as with Christine and the other children, wives, friends and employers of phonies.

I pondered whether to write back to Christine and what to say for several days. Part of me wanted to tell her the truth. After all, I owe that to my real teammates. But a humane part of me held back. Why ruin Christine's image of her father, who was trying to impress her by being something he was not? Maybe he just did not think enough of his little girl. So I sat on it.

Respond or Delete? What is more important, the truth or Christine? Damn him!

About a week later, I ran into an old swim buddy from SEAL Team THREE at the SEAL training area. His sister-in-law was planning to marry a “SEAL” but her Mom was suspicious about the SEAL’s story. My swim buddy checked the “wall of shame” via NavySEALs.com (where AuthentiSEAL posts verified fake SEALs). He was not there. However, a check of the databases confirmed the mother’s hunch. He was a fake. The wedding is off, another relationship trashed by a lie. Phony SEAL number 10,001 identified.

Perhaps in this media sound bite, feel-good world people think that saying something makes it true. When a politician says he did not support the Iraq War, we accept that as truth. Yet a records check shows that he supported the war a few months ago.

Truth no longer seems relevant in our society. More important is perception, which is accepted as reality. People say they are SEALs, so they must be SEALs. Why would they lie?

The phony is not doing any harm. Who cares anyhow, right? Wrong! Christine cares. My swim buddy’s sister-in-law cares. Real veterans care. I care. Do you care?

Mark Divine is founder and editor of NavySEALs.com, a website dedicated to military and Special Operations enthusiasts, particularly the Navy SEAL community. He is a veteran of the Navy SEALs, having served at SEAL Team THREE, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE and Naval Special Warfare Group ONE. He has been recalled to active duty for a year to support the War on Terror. He can be reached at mark@navyseals.com.




02-08-04, 10:39 AM
Her father would have simply say,

"What I did was top secret, the government will deny anything we did."

And, so another fake goes on.

I have yet to find a real veteran on the freeway off ramps in California.

You know some of us have seen them. They stand by the off ramps asking for money with a cardboard cut out that says, more or less.

"Homeless Vietnam veteran, please help!"

Of all the ones I have seen and stopped to ask questions I have not found one to be a real Vietnam veteran and many not homeless at all.

The homeless veteran is another issue, that I believe the figures government agencies use to obtain federal or state funds are not true.


02-08-04, 11:35 AM
Sounds familiar. All branches of the service fall victim to what might be best termed "Honor Theft." As the author said, SEALS, Recon Marines, Army LRRPs and Green Berets, and Air Force Search and Rescue, are used by wannabe's to pump up their own empty lives. Even men who served in combat zones can become fakes, by claiming honors and awards they didn't earn. Their job might have been just as important as the men busting the boonies, or the dunes if you're in the desert. The problem was that their jobs weren't "interesting" enough to impress their girlfriends and families, so they embellished. After all, who would check the stories out?

It is worse when the faker has never served a day of service. He collects accolades that don't belong to him. Dead men in graves cannot be congratulated, nor can they join in a round of drinks, bought to toast their bravery. Another book, entitled "Stolen Valor", by a former Army officer, B.G. Burkett, does the same as the SEAL book, "No Guts, No Glory", but for the other services, including the Marine Corps. That author has checked out claims of honorable service pertaining to any branch of the service.

Adding insult to injury is when anti-war protesters are found to be faking military service. They do it to reap the gratitude of their community, serving as grand marshals during parades, and as keynote speakers at luncheons designed to honor those who served. They are so adept at their concealment, that journalists, who are natural snoops, have been fooled.

Don't look for this to ever stop. I'll bet there were fake Roman soldiers. It won't stop until we lose the capacity for war, or are displaced as Prime Predator by another species.


Toby M
02-08-04, 12:16 PM
Just before I retired, I worked in the local jail for a number of years. During that time, I met and booked countless "ex Marines (particularly force recon) who claimed to have done time in Viet Nam. Most of them claimed to have been assigned to top secret units and whose records had been destroyed due to the sensitive nature of their work. Turns out that about 99% of these guys would have been in their early, early teens when I was over there in 69...One guy even had a large tatoo (brand new) proclaiming his allegience to Force Recon. He (at that time) was only 19. He claimed to have been in five years and had been awarded three Navy Crosses and wounded twice.
Point being...I guess if you can't go first class, stay home! It takes all kinds-all they can do is talk the talk...

02-08-04, 06:55 PM
Point being...I guess if you can't go first class, stay home!
Yeah-You notice no one ever falsely claims to be a former USMC postal clerk or something in admin?

02-08-04, 07:38 PM
I've heard stories,but can't find anything to back it up that Senator Max Clellan from Georgia was not a combat casualty. You know the triple amputee that is in the wheelchair behind Kerry at all his rallys. The rumor is that he was in a staging area to be assigned to a combat unit but never made it forward. The story goes on to say he was "messing" around with a grenade when it detonated and the rest is history. A Marine Colonel supposedly lost an eye as a result of that mishap. Is there anyone out there that can either confirm or deny this incident?

02-11-04, 02:54 AM
I saw a news special Max Clellan. The grenade that injured him was either dropped or not thrown far enough by another member of his unit. I do believe they were under fire at the time.

02-11-04, 03:42 AM
It was dropped by him, and exploded right underneath him and other people he was getting on a helicopter with! The story is true, and he is not a phony! Senator Max Clellan is a good man and a advocate for Veteran's Rights!

02-11-04, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by snipowsky
It was dropped by him, and exploded right underneath him and other people he was getting on a helicopter with! The story is true, and he is not a phony! Senator Max Clellan is a good man and a advocate for Veteran's Rights!

well, I dont know if I'll make friends with this or not,, but here goes,,,

I don't care if you were a cook, bottlewasher or latrine boy/girl, if you were wounded, you served......
If you were wounded by friendly fire...... you served..... even if the friendly fire was you (by accident, not a purposely self-inflicted wound) you served...
My dad was wounded in WWII by friendly fire and had to fight the VA for his disability,, they actually denied him BECAUSE HE WAS HIT BY FRIENDLY FIRE... he appealled and won, so he got his disability,, funny thing was it was only a 10 or 15 % disability rating,,,,,, but the important thing was that he got it,,,, finally...

02-11-04, 12:27 PM
For what is worth I am very troubled by the nature of many of the comments and questions that have been popping up here lately as they relate to service and injuries received. Most seem directed at Kerry, and here, to Max Clellan.

The problem I have is that the entire discussion and reference to wounds seems to be taking on the level of some sort of "purity" test. That if the wound is not serious enough well then it really doesn't mean that much. That Clellan if he dropped the grenade--and I have NO idea how he got blown up--is somehow "not the same" as some other guy--ie Gen Puller's son--who blew himself apart because he stepped on booby trap. The entire discussion has a tone, or so it seems to me, underneath it that the value of a wound is only acceptable if it passes this implied "Purity" test.

How about the men--and we all know their names are on The Wall--who were KIA due to friendly fire. Do our "purists" suggest that we should take their names off The Wall because, well, they became dead in some fashion that is less than acceptable to a purist than the man who was killed in an ambush ?

Do you all see where I am going here? Or am I all alone in seeing these undercurrents? Somehow I don't think I am all alone.

None of us is perfect in our past...and I really think we'd be better served if we tried to raise the level of comment above these implied purity tests.

Semper Fi !

02-11-04, 12:31 PM
None of us is perfect in our past...and I really think we'd be better served if we tried to raise the level of comment above these implied purity tests.

Semper Fi ! [/B][/QUOTE]

I agree,,,, all of us makes mistakes and I would hate to be held accountable for some that I made,,, especially when I was young and dumb......

the same goes for politicians I guess,, they are bound to make mistakes when they are young and dumb....:banana: :bunny:

benny rutledge
02-11-04, 01:48 PM
I think all "Wannabe" reports of Phony Seals should immediately be forwarded to "Dirty" Dick Marcinko. His sight is relly unusual and to the point.Sempers....

02-11-04, 01:52 PM
Come on folks. There are enough "born again" Christians here to understand my point.

" Before I found Christ, I used to be a ......., but now I am a ........" and it is accepted and applauded.

The problem with Kerry and Clellan (and others) is that they want to capitalize on what they were, and use it to their advantage, when it suits them.

Therefore their claims are fair game for examination.

On the other hand, GWB (and others) say that "I used to be a ....., but now I am a ....".

I think it only fair to judge what someone wants to make capital of.

If you want me to accept you because of your history, I will look at your history.

If you want me to accept you by what you are today, I will look at today.

If some broad wants to attract me on the basis that she was a beauty queen thirty years ago, I want to see her pin-up photos to understand how she got so ugly.