Assclown of the Ides: Rudi Gresham, Legend in His Own Mind, #3

Rudi Gresham wearing a uniform, not one of whose insignia he actually earned.

Rudi Gresham wearing a uniform, not one of whose insignia he actually earned. No CPT, INF, SF, 7th Group, CIB, Master Blaster wings — every one’s a fraud.

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.”

22 thoughts on “Assclown of the Ides: Rudi Gresham, Legend in His Own Mind, #3

  1. James F.

    I did a search for “Rudi Gresham” in Google News Archive, to check out some of the MSM coverage of his lies, back when he was believed. There’s nothing that interesting there, but I discovered that he’d purchased a Google ad to his rudigresham dot com site, so people searching for him will get an opportunity to hear his side of the story, and see his pictures standing next to real people. When I went to go to Guardian of Valor, I did it via a Google search, and this is what I saw–his self-serving site prefaced by “Guardian of Valor.”

    I also checked out the Posner thing.

    It turns out that a lot of the notes to Chapter 32 of Posner’s MLK book KILLING THE DREAM cite Gresham, who was interviewed in 1997 in his role of “Yarborough’s former chief aide, retired major Rudi Gresham.”

    The chapter is titled “Military Hoax” and believe it or not, Gresham was EXPOSING someone else’s lies about SF.

    It involved a

    “convoluted hypothesis that centered on a covert team of Green Beret snipers from the 20th Special Forces Group that was supposedly in Memphis on the day King was killed. Two snipers, according to [British lawyer William] Pepper, had both King and his top aide, Andrew Young, in their gun sights at the very moment someone else, probably an unidentified military sniper, carried out the assassination.”

    Here’s what you need to know about Pepper, author of the 1995 book “Orders to Kill”, other than that he was “antiwar” activist at the time of King’s death. According to Posner

    “On July 6, 1978, Pepper was charged with four felony counts of transporting two teenage boys “to engage in lewd and indecent activities.” The local police also learned that in 1969 a U.S. Senate subcommittee heard statements from two young boys who said Pepper had sexual contact with them when they were eight. ”

    There’s a williampepper dot com with his conspiracy theories, and a couple of books in Amazon, but don’t go there.

    More from 1997:

    When Pepper’s book was published, a friend of General William Yarborough, the father of the Green Berets, brought it to the attention of Yarborough’s former chief aide, retired major Rudi Gresham. “I thought it was just crazy,” recalls the fifty-two-year-old Gresham. “There were things in there that were impossible, that told me that Pepper did not understand how the military worked. I knew right away that he was either really careless with the facts, or someone had sold him a bill of goods.”

    Imagine that!

  2. John Distai

    When you grow up as an honest, ethical (and naive) person, it’s a huge let down when you learn that others may not share the same character traits.

  3. Toastrider

    I still wonder why SCOTUS struck down Stolen Valor.

    I know there was some commentary here in an earlier post, about certain folks who get their panties in a bunch over piddly shit (like wearing camo). But I thought the Stolen Valor act was pretty clear; if you’re using medals and ranks you didn’t earn for personal gain, the hammer comes down on you. And I don’t think it applied to actors playing a role in a script, or reenactors/cosplayers (who are typically depicting historical or fictional militaries anyways).

    1. BillC

      I was under the impression that Stolen Valor doesn’t apply to a fruit who’s walking around town in cammies saying his a Super Ranger SEAL, because free speech or something, but when he uses it for any form of financial/monetary gain, then it is illegal.

    2. Hognose Post author

      I still wonder why SCOTUS struck down Stolen Valor.
      Easy. Nine Harvard/Yale lawyers, zero vets of actual military service. (One or two of the nonagenarians might have spent a minimum tour as a JAG, but that’s not really a soldier).

      Harvard and Yale have institutionalized contempt for soldiers since LBJ and Nixon (neither of whom had the, er, benefit of a Yarvard upbringing) followed good Harvard man JFK into Vietnam.

      Imagine what SCOTUS would say to a law forbidding Stolen Lawyer. Oh wait, practicing law w/o a degree and/or license is already illegal, and they’re all cool with it. Lying about your nonexistent LLM is a felony in many states, but lying about your bogus MOH is — to a bunch of unrepresentative, cloistered, cosmopolitan and unpatriotic lawyers, no big deal.


      I think maybe you are talking about my comments about it last time?

      I apologize to everyone if I was not clear about that. I am all for the law as stated .

      My point last time is that there are a helluva lot of guys who would demand guys go to jail, or think its justification to beat the shit out of someone for wearing a pair of multicam pants. I don’t exaggerate that either. I have seen in person ,guys say it and read it on many gun forums too many times to count. I was just saying I ain’t crazy about vague laws that determine what you can wear. My worry was that some people would take it upon themselves to interpret that Act beyond what is obviously intended.
      Certainly the Stolen Valor Act should be a reality.


    Surreal. It’s got to be the money right? Obviously the respect and admiration that comes from service also appeals to them but is the bottom line the money? I don’t think you get people out there pretending to be Olympic Gold Medalists or former Pro ball players do you? Is it also jealousy an or shame?

    It’s such a lowly act. Like prank calling the family after the news reports their child raped and murdered.

    Does the often top secret SF stuff make it especially easy and tempting for these people because of the nature of it not being as easy to check up on them by average Joe’s ability?

    It makes you wonder how they hell they can even look at themselves even in private.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The phonies do play the secret stuff. But there have never been any secret SEALs or UDTs at all, or any secret Rangers, and the only secret SF guys were very early in the program (pre-1955-57 or so) and were Lodge Act guys who were given new names because of their families behind the Iron Curtain.


    I was just wondering, how did this guy explain no one ever speaking up about actually standing beside him in Vietnam ? Did he say they had all died or been killed or some such? Had memories just gotten so fuzzy people see so many people over a career that guys maybe thought they vaguely remembered seeing him there ?

    I mean besides all the guys who already knew he was fishy.

  6. Haxo Angmark

    “comorbid”. I believe we have been present at the birth of new word. Pretty exciting. Already pencil’d in to my Webster’s, between (Lake) “Como” and “Comoro” (Islands).


    There are at least two major, and possibly three more minor, uniform discrepencies with the photograph, as follows: (1) MAJOR: If on Jump Status (and wearing the Green Beret with Flash strongly suggests the wearer is on Jump Status), there no “Background Trimming” (AR 670-1 phrase) behind the Master Parachutist Badge; (2) MAJOR: There are no Special Forces Crests (“Distinctive Unit Insignia”, per AR 670-1) on the epaulets of the khaki shirt; (3) MINOR: No visible crew-neck white T-Shirt visible (perhaps this was optional in Vietnam-era Army); (4) MINOR: No Name Tag on right-hand pocket flap (perhaps this was optional in Vietnam-era Army); (5) MINOR: No Ribbons above left-hand pocket (again, perhaps ribbons were optional on this uniform during the Vietnam era; (6) POSSIBLE MAJOR: Related to Number (2), above, if commanding an ODA or SF Company, Green Tabs would be worn underneath the SF Crests.

    1. Hognose Post author

      SF culture was at the time of the khaki uniform not to wear ribbons, unless ordered. Just wings and CIB. Not sure when the background trimmings came in. They were there when I got to 10th Group on 10/1980.

      1. Hartley

        FWIW, Hognose, we had the oval behind the wings in 1972 when I got to Devens. I vaguely remember them being a “new thing”, as the old hands were grousing about them.

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