Monday, January 21, 2019

Doesn't Add Up - Arithmetic Only

There is a rumor Nathan Phillips, who claimed to be a Marine and a Vietnam vet, could not be both.  I looked him up and he was 64 at the time of the recent incident, so the very oldest he could be is just turned 65 this week, and thus born January of 1954.  There is one report of him celebrating his birthday Feb 22.  I remembered that the USMC left Vietnam just before I graduated high school in 1971, but memory is fickle, so I looked it up and yes, they left in May 1971. The oldest Nathan Phillips could be was 17 years and 4 months.  17-3 or less is more likely. You could join the USMC at 17 with parental consent, but then you would have Basic Training to go through.  That is currently thirteen weeks. I don't know what it was then.

If it was seven weeks, then he would have to have gone to Basic on his birthday, and gone to VN immediately in mid-April, then brought back a month later.  This seems...unlikely.  Does anyone think the Marines would be sending new units over that they would be bringing back in five weeks? Sometimes just plain arithmetic can tell you things.

He might have lied about his age. That could change the picture. But even with that, initial deployment would be in 1970, and is an unlikely scenario. I believe Force Recon still had a presence in Vietnam after 1971, but I don't think he's made that claim.  One would not be in Force Recon and then later describe oneself as an infantryman.

In some places he claims to have been a Vietnam vet, in others he says he was an infantryman in the Vietnam era.  I suspect the latter is more likely true, as the "era" runs to 1975 for the nation, though not the USMC. Is that a common exaggeration, to falsely claim to have been deployed to a war zone, or more mildly, to say "Vietnam-era veteran" and not make the correction when people conclude you were in VN?


Armed Texan said...

To paraphrase the youts on the interwebs, DD 214 or GTFO.

Christopher B said...

He's also called himself a 'reccon ranger' in the article linked below. In my understanding this would be Army rather than USMC terminology as the US Army elite light infantry have used the term Ranger since WWII. The Marine terms I've heard are Force Reccon or Raiders (also a WWII moniker) as you mentioned.

He also used the phrase 'from Vietnam times'.

The Article mentions his age as 64 in late 2016 (with a 17 year old daughter!), which would make him 18 in late 1970 (born 1952).

That date is more plausible for Vietnam era service but taken all together - the slippery language, apparently claiming service in elite units of two different branches, confusion as to age - I'm extremely skeptical.

Grim said...

“Recon Ranger” is a term from the USMC’s version of the “I wanna be an Airborne Ranger” cadence.

“I wanna be a Drill Instructor
I wanna wear that Smokey Bear/
I wanna be a Recon Ranger,
I wanna cut off all my hair!”

There’s also a “Recon Ranger / Life of Danger” variant.

My guess is he borrowed the poetic term. What his real service was like we will know soon enough. This Ain’t Hell has requested his records. They do a lot of stolen valor stuff.

Anonymous said...

People need to keep in mind that someone claiming to be a VietNam vet does NOT mean they went to VietNam during active hostilities. I know a LOT of people use that classification to intentionally lead someone else to believe they actually FOUGHT in VietNam. All a VietNam vet is someone who served in the military ANYWHERE in the worls between the years of 1960-1975 (there abouts). Maybe this Indian elder did see combat (the cease fire didn't last and fighting broke out again in '74), but the character I see in him, he'e merely trying to puff himself up with "I'M a VIETNAM VET" so you must give me respect

I know, because I am one of the so called VietNam vets even though all I did was float around the Gulf of Tonkin for a few months (4/73- 7/73) while there was a CEASE FIRE.

In a way I'm ashamed to say I'm a VietNam Vet because that should be reserved for the REAL heroes that actually put their lives on the line. I did nothing and I always make sure tp point that out.

Deevs said...

I didn't start paying attention to this story until it began being walked back. I did see some headlines though. They kept touting this man's military service. I couldn't help but ask myself, "What does that have to do with anything other than a blatant attempt to emotionally manipulate the audience?"

Looking into his service will definitely be construed as a racist activity, regardless of the outcome. It does seem warranted here based on his age and the fact he got on national TV and lied about the entire situation. Suddenly, I'm not willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt.

Beyond that, I take issue with the idea that military service necessarily grants a person any protection from criticism or moral authority. I appreciate the service they provided to the country, but it doesn't provide a free pass on future bad behavior.

RichardJohnson said...

All a VietNam vet is someone who served in the military ANYWHERE in the worls between the years of 1960-1975 (there abouts)

I do not agree. If you were in the military during that time but did not go to Vietnam, you are a Vietnam era veteran.

RichardJohnson said...

Consider Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Richard Blumenthal’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.

In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.

I read an article which said that Mr. Phillips described himself as a "Vietnam era veteran," but the media stretched it.

Christopher B said...

Thanks, Grim. I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

My bad Richard. You are correct, as I meant to include ERA vet. My overall point was that people, especially media, omit the word 'era' (intentionally or not) to suggest 'some sort of special' (that's the best description I can think of off hand).

Christopher B said...

WASHINGTON POST FINALLY CORRECTS THE RECORD ON NATHAN PHILLIPS’ MILITARY SERVICE: “Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips served in the U.S. Marines from 1972 to 1976 but was never deployed to Vietnam.”

Grim said...

This guy seems to be the first one with the DD-214. As expected, he was in the USMC, but the Reserves; definitely not in Recon; mostly he was an electrician, refrigerator mechanic. He did obtain an expert badge in rifle, went AWOL several times. No other distinction. Never served overseas.

Discharged at the rank of private, which is not exactly distinguished after a term of service.