Feeds

Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

'They don't understand the internet' says fake-frogman outer

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Yet another curious effect of the modern internet media world became apparent this week: the syndrome – particularly common among American clergymen – of falsely claiming to be a former US Navy SEAL has risen to prominence, as the risk of being exposed as such a liar has risen severely.

The chest badge worn by qualified US Navy SEALs, aka 'Budweiser badge', Trident badge etc. Credit: US Navy

The badge of the now even-more-famous frogman commandos. Preacher Moats apparently bought one in a militaria shop, and wore it on various occasions.

We refer specifically to the case of Pennsylvania preacher Jim Moats, recently humiliated after embellishing his 1970s naval service with a fictional stint in the already famous SEALs - who have now catapulted to global celebrity status following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The phenomenon of falsely claiming to be a SEAL (or other special or elite-force member) is a common one, of course. Apparently the SEALs are unusual in this as in other ways: it seems that American clergymen are particularly prone to claiming that they have won the right to wear the famous "Budweiser badge" of the US Navy's elite when in fact they haven't.

"We deal with these guys all the time, especially the clergy. It's amazing how many of the clergy are involved in those lies to build that flock up," said retired SEAL Don Shipley, who is apparently genuine. Shipley spends a fair bit of time outing fake SEALs, which is apparently reasonably easy as there aren't that many real ones: no more than 10,000, seemingly, even given the amount of turnover that the SEAL teams have undergone since their founding.

“I bring a shame and a reproach upon the name of Christ, I bring a shame and a reproach upon my church, and I bring a shame and a reproach upon my family,” Moats said, confessing his sins.

Other common professions who tend to falsely and publicly claim they were once SEALs are politicians and sheriffs, according to Shipley. Sheriffs are typically elected in the USA, and so need popular support. These and clergymen are the kind of people he tends to out, rather than the more common type of commando-impersonator who is simply trying to impress a girl in a bar.

“The pastor never thought anyone outside of his small community would see [his false claims],” Shipley said. “He doesn’t understand how the Internet works.”

In America is actually a crime to misrepresent or exaggerate one's military service record. The Stolen Valor Act was signed into force by the former president, George W Bush, well known for previously being photographed on the deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier clad in full naval aviator's equipment (though in fact he had served only as a comparatively lowly National Guard pilot in Texas at the time of Vietnam, never as an elite carrier aviator in combat like his father.) The Stolen Valor Act has subsequently been ruled unconstitutional by US judges.

A class enjoying the early stages of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training.

It's a lot more expensive getting one given you by the government.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: Bootnotes

More from The Register

next story
Swiss wildlife park serves up furry residents to visitors
'It's ecological' says spokesman, now how would you like your Bambi done?
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
ePassport to Transnistria: NEXTIFYING the Nation State with BONG
Hey the Man, you can't geoblock distributed democracy
Red Bull does NOT give you wings, $13.5m lawsuit says so
Website letting consumers claim $10 cash back crashes after stampede
Trolls have DARK TETRAD of personality defects, say trickcyclists
Think psychopathy and BDSM dungeons, not desktops
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.