We have written and have followed up once about the legendary SF phony, former peaked-at-PFC clerk and chaplain’s assistant Rudi Gresham. Gresham has been claiming for decades to be a retired major, or lieutenant colonel, or something — like most habitual liars he puts little effort into the consistency of his lies, even though he seems to have come to believe them himself.
Now that his deception has been exposed, he and his proxies are claiming he was a super-secret-squirrel CIA officer. Would you believe: he wasn’t that, either? With a bunkered-up Rudi having deleted most of his own social media presence, these claims are being advanced, in part, by proxies such as SFA Chapter 34 head Mike Mika, a genuine SF vet who has partnered with Rudi in some charitable endeavors. Another Rudi defender, SF vet and author Don Bendell, has turned on his former friend, after evidence that Rudi had lied and had cheated Don out of money became overwhelming. Don prides himself on being a man of honor. Imagine how betrayed he must feel.
In fact, this has been a very profitable, if underhanded, imposture for Rudi. What he seems to have done to Don is to offer to act as a middleman to facilitate a donation to a worthy cause, and then give the recipient half of the donation Don gave him to pass on!
Remember what we like to say about phonies: it’s never just Stolen Valor with these guys. There’s always some other misconduct comorbid with the imposture.
When Guardian of Valor outed Rudi (something that many in the SF community had known was coming, as it had been discussed in private forums closed to the public and to any non-SF person, such as, for instance, Rudi), Don Bendell was one of the friends who sprang to his defense — at first. As GOV puts it in a 27 August update:
After our story was published, we received countless emails and phone-calls from former colleagues of Gresham’s, and those that had supported him all the way up until we outed him. One certain person was Rudis best friend. He defended him and told us we had no clue what we were talking about, that Rudi was an honorable man.. until he saw the evidence. Once we presented him with it, he was devastated to say the least.
He confronted Rudi, who admitted to Don that he was in fact lying about being a Special Forces Retired Officer. In an email sent to Mr. Gresham from his former friend, he tells him of the incident in which he admitted this.
Don didn’t just send the letter to Rudi, and to GOV. He BCC’d it to everybody who’s anybody in the SF community, and asked that it be shared in the private fora mentioned above.
We had been sitting on Don’s dynamite letter because we did not know if he wanted it published beyond those private places. Guardian of Valor has published the whole thing as a screen shot as part of that update; let us know in the comments if there’s demand for selectable text, ’cause it’s still sitting in our inbox.
This is somewhat personal for your humble blogger. Not as personal as it is for poor Don, an honorable vet who was lied to and ripped off face to face by Rudi Gresham, shameless SF fraud. But it’s still personal enough. We make no Vietnam claims here, but came by our SF and Ranger tabs, and our memberships in SFA and SOA, legitimately. It is personally highly vexatious that a phony could simply assert such things, and then, having used such phony credentials to worm himself into high places, Gresham today is using his relationships with politicians and former executive appointees to try to shore up his false claims.
It doesn’t matter how many selfies he’s got with Jeb! Bush, or Lindsey Graham, or Tony Principi, or Mike Hayden. Rudi Gresham is a fraud. He used that long-running fraud for personal gain, often at the expense of charities he claimed to be helping (or in the case of some charities, the whole thing was as big a fraud as Rudi’s claimed career).
He profited greatly by these false claims. There is no legal recourse because the Supreme Court, nine lawyers untainted by real-world exposure (or military service), ruled that, while they fully support jailing phonies who pretend to be lawyers, Stolen Valor frauds are just using their First Amendment rights to promote themselves, and who cares who’s a real veteran anyway? Truly an attitude you need to be within Uber range of an Acela Express stop to hold.
Rudi’s strongest surviving defender, Mike Mika, appears to be entirely legit as an SF vet. And, unlike Rudi, he seems to be involved in vets’ and Montagnard charities on a basis of selfless service, which is admirable. But to put the most charitable spin possible on it, he has been blinded by Rudi’s donations to his causes — donations which, if Rudi treats them like he did the ones from Don, he skimmed rather badly without telling Mike — and he still defends him. GOV tells this story (“Mike” is Mike Mika):
[T]he Mike he is speaking of in the email, I was contacted by, was the President of the local Special Forces Association which Rudi had recently resigned from after being a member for a several years. He is the author of the website supporting Rudi Gresham. He told me he had some information that would change my mind about Rudi and asked to meet with me one afternoon, and I agreed. At this meeting I was asked not to discuss much of it…
…a sure sign of bullshit…
…but it was agreed that Rudi was never an officer in the US Army (agreed by Mike Mika) and that the main concern was over a lawsuit stemming from the Martin Luther King family and the book “Killing The Dream”, by Gerald Posner.
This is utter nonsense. There was such a lawsuit between various Kings — who are understandably protective of their late father’s image — and Posner, but it was settled many years ago. It appears to have been about the King family and James Earl Ray’s defense attorney trying to establish that there might have been a conspiracy to kill King. (Posner, trained as an attorney, makes a case in his book and argues convincingly that there was no conspiracy, and James Earl Ray murdered Rev. King alone ). And it has nothing to do with whether Rudi is a phony. It’s just more poo flung from the monkey cage to try to distract people from Rudi’s endless (until 2016, anyway) impersonation.
It seems that Mr. Gresham is quoted throughout an entire chapter in that book, and maybe this could start some new theories. Who knows?
No, it just means that author Gerald Posner is one more victim of Rudi’s long-running deception campaign.
Like I told them, my only concern is the truth about Mr. Gresham’s background, not this other stuff. So again they tried to show me the letter from General Yarborough, and again I tell them that this holds no water as it was written in the 90’s.
They also showed me photos of Mr. Gresham with the director of the CIA, trying to also convince me that he was also some type of secret agent for the Government. I had to just shake my head. We left the meeting with a promise to meet with Mr. Gresham the following Friday in Charleston, S.C. I awaited the phone call for the meeting but it never happened.
One of the fascinating things about Rudi is his involvement with Thomas Burch in the phony charity the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation. Both were SF phonies. Burch had a slightly stronger claim, because he was just promoting himself from a JAG assigned to SF in Vietnam to a FAG (Former Action Guy); Rudi’s claims were even more outrageous as he never rose above PFC and never got closer to Vietnam than Fayetteville, North Carolina. But what fascinates us is the possibility that both were so deep in their impersonations that neither one seems to have realized that the other was a phony, too.
It has happened before: two Texas guys started a Vietnam War museum: they claimed SEAL and SF, and each believed the other was telling the truth, even though he knew he himself was lying. Was that the deal with Burch and Gresham and their phony charity? We’ll never know, will we? It’s not like we’re going to get straight answers out of these guys. They’re going to lie until their last breath, and then, the gravedigger will need to use a corkscrew to make the holes for ’em.
Let’s not forget who Hans Rudolf “Rudi” Gresham really is. Private First Class. (And in retrospect, promotion to that grade sounds like a classic Army error). Clerk-typist. Chaplain’s Assistant. And, as his actual DD 214 says, “Nothing follows.”