Feeds

Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

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.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Next page: Bootnotes

More from The Register

next story
Are you a fat boy? Get to university NOW, you PENNILESS SLACKER
Rotund types paid nearly 20% less than people who didn't eat all the pies
Emma Watson should SHUT UP, all this abuse is HER OWN FAULT
... said an anon coward who we really wish hadn't posted on our website
Japan develops robot CHEERLEADERS which RIDE on BALLS
'Will put smiles on faces worldwide', predicts corporate PR chief
Bruges Booze tubes to pump LOVELY BEER underneath city
Belgian booze pumped from underground
Let it go, Steve: Ballmer bans iPads from his LA Clippers b-ball team
Can you imagine the scene? 'Hey guys, it's your new owner – WTF is that on your desk?'
Amazon: Wish in one hand, Twit in the other – see which one fills first
#AmazonWishList A year's supply of Arran scotch, ta
SLOSH! Cops dethrone suspect - by tipping over portaloo with him inside
Talk about raising a stink and soiling your career
Ingredient found in TASTY BEER is GOOD for your BRAIN
You only have to drink 2k litres a day to see the effect...
Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights
Don't doodle, it might cost you your flight
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.