How To Explain Why You Hate Poseurs

stolen-valor-SF-phonyCall them what you will — poseurs, wannabes, walts, blowfish, or the World War I vintage term, “four-flusher” — but we hate ’em. Doesn’t even matter if they’re faking our service. A guy who pretends to be a Naval Aviator or a Marine Scout Sniper infuriates us just as much as some goon rockin’ an unearned Green Beret, and we’re pretty sure that the beret goon also gets up the nose of our Navy, Marine and Air Force bros.

That said, it’s easy to discuss this with fellow vets, because we’re all pretty much on the same page, regardless of what heights we scaled (or depths we plumbed) during our time in uniform. But it’s hard to get it across to most civilians. That’s probably why the Supreme Court invalidated the Stolen Valor Act. None of them are actual vets, are they? They’re all Yarvard lawyers. They would never find against a prohibition on practicing law without passing the Bar Exam — that’s something that hits them where they live.

But military service? Meaningless, foreign, distant and contemptible — that’s how the Justices of the Supreme Court see you, and how the vast majority of judges and lawyers see you.

So this article by Scott Faith at Havok Journal, which is almost a year old, is a pretty good resource when some judge, lawyer, or other non-military person looks at you in complete puzzlement when you’re ranting about the medieval tortures you have in mind for some poseur. It’s called “Why Veterans Hate Posers So, So, So, SO Very Much,” and that’s just what it is.

Faith makes a real effort to explain why we loathe poseurs, and who is and isn’t one:

So who isn’t a poser under this definition?  The short answer is, outward appearance on its own doesn’t count, it’s all about intent.  People who wear military-style fatigues to do rugged work like hunting, or simply to stay warm, are not posers.  Children who are obviously too young for military service aren’t posers.  People who wear military-themed clothing, including unit- or qualification-specific shirts or hats, are not automatically posers (do you think everyone wearing an NFL jersey played professional football?).  Legitimate re-enactors aren’t posers, and as for Airsofters… well, that’s debatable.  Anyway, even celebrities who wear stylized military uniforms or hipsters who wear military-style jackets or hats to be “ironic” aren’t posers, they’re just douchebags.  That’s an important difference.

He even creates a taxonomy of four classes of the scrotes. And he runs through the possible solutions, including the all-time favorite:

Unfortunately, the “summarized ass whipping” is not recognized as a legal course of action, so most of the time military posers do not get the punishment they so richly deserve…. So now it’s pretty much an open invitation for military posers, to include well-known celebrity actors like Shia LaBeouf, to carry on however they want.

The fact of the matter is, what most of these guys need is a personal and particularized beating, but the lawyers (see above comments about the vet-hostile ethos of the Supreme Court) won’t let you do that.

So… Big Boy Rules are in effect. Don’t get caught.

61 thoughts on “How To Explain Why You Hate Poseurs

  1. aczarnowski

    Claiming honors you didn’t earn should be universally appalling. People that don’t get this brightly signal I don’t need to waste any more time with them.

    Grandfather was a Marine and my dad was Air Force. I never served but graduated mechanical engineering (went into computers so EIT but no PE). The custodial and other “engineers” are in a similar – though certainly not life or death – vein.

    Tough part is that I have no where near enough knowledge to call the military poseurs out.

    1. LSWCHP

      I’m an old Engineer now. I have a degree and letters after my name and membership of a professional body and I even get to tell war stories (of the Engineering variety) to noob Engineers at university every now and then.

      So yeah…fake “engineers” with a lower case “e” kinda grip my shit too, even though I wouldn’t beat them like these other assclowns. Sound “engineers” at music gigs particularly get up my nose. I’m an Engineer who helps to build huge, complex electronic gadgets worth tens of millions of dollars, and those guys twiddle knobs to get the sound right at a gig. It’s a great skill, but it ain’t engineering.

      And I’ve just realised that I’ve now posted three comments in one thread which makes me a three-post nutjob. I think several of my buttons have been pressed simultaneously by Hognose’s post, so please excuse me ladies and gentlemen.

      1. Hognose Post author

        Well, the cat that drives the choo-choo train is a Railroad Engineer. In England, he’s more plainly an Engine Driver.

        Sound Engineers used to have s very comprehensive education, and wear white lab coats to the studio. That changed in the sixties. They used to build their own gear! An old EMI or RCA recording engineer was a hell of a useful guy if you ever had noises to preserve.

      2. Mike_C

        I think I see where you guys are coming from on this “engineer” business (particularly as the son of an engineer and a recovering engineer myself) but that sort of thing is everywhere. Every third-rate singer/dancing monkey is now an “artist” and so forth. Personally I’m amused by “Computer Doctors” and “The Muffler Doctor” (on a car exhaust repair shop — shame on those of you hoping it might be a gynecologist’s practice), but I do know MDs who are offended by that. At least people misappropriating “engineer” suggests there is still some value and esteem attached to the profession.

        Huh. Puts me in mind of the old joke. So the toilet backs up in the rectory and proves to be resistant to the usual amateur mucking about to clear it. A plumber is called. The man shows up and is cheerful and respectful to the priest on his way in. After clearing the blockage the plumber is surly and withdrawn on the way out. “Is something wrong?” the priest asks. “Well, father,” says the plumber, looking at the floor, “I have to admit to being quite offended by that bottle you left on the floor next to the toilet.” The priest is puzzled, then realizes that the man is talking about the liquid drain declogger. “Oh, sorry. I’m sure my having put that caustic stuff into the bowl made your job more difficult.” The plumber makes eye contact and grinds out, “It’s not that. I’m used to that. But how would you feel if you came into my house and saw a bottle of Liquid Priest on the table?”

        Be sure to try your server and tip the veal.

      3. John Distai

        If I have a MS degree from an “[ insert discipline ] Engineering” department, but my BS is not from any “Engineering” department, am I considered an “Engineer”?

  2. Aesop

    The hell we can’t thrash them soundly.

    I have not encountered one of the myriad of YouTube-quality douchecanoes personally in the wild, but suffice it to say, they will either retire from the scene without the offending Stolen Valor accoutrements, or in serious need of corrective dental and orthopedic surgery, and probably a urological consult, and will be presented with exactly such an invitation on the day. I feel it’s my civic duty to warn the @$$holes of these potential hazards before some unknown person takes them apart the minute they’re over behind the tall shelves, or in the men’s room. The world is a slippery place, and accidents can happen any time.
    Cf. 10,000 visits from guys with flattened noses to local shops:
    “Say, that’s nice uniform you’ve stolen. It would be a shame if it got all burned and bloody.”

    I figure it’s going to be hard for Officer Friendly or J. Noble Daggett to obtain a statement afterwards from someone feeding through a tube and with eyes swollen shut, curled up in a little whimpering fetal ball. Nota bene the public YouTube confrontations are only from those vets who would rather publicly shame them, than those who’d actually step in to correct their malfunctions wall-to-wall. I cannot imagine that no such of the latter have occurred, nor might be reasonably foreseen.

    Paraphrasing George C. Scott as Patton, given two minutes alone with them, a war will start, and it will look like their fault. For those with a serious sense of humor, leaving a little ISIS flag on the offender afterwards could be a nice touch. I offer that purely for informational purposes.

    Worst case, their uniform could spontaneously combust under the First Amendment protections covering flag burning (and US Code makes it permissible to burn a flag that’s become soiled. Just saying…), and if they don’t happen to doff the offending garb in time, they can chalk that one up to their growing fund of personal wisdom on the matter.

    IANAL, but a positive defense citing Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568 (1942), is far more likely to protect us’ns than the offenders under such circumstances, should anyone need it.

    But I can’t imagine anyone helpfully waiting around afterwards to give a press release to the authorities.
    Anonymous justice teaches multiple people, and on so many levels.
    Remember, “If you ain’t cheatin’ a little, you ain’t tryin’ hard enough.”

  3. Quill_&_Blade

    No military service here, so I hope the armchair quarterback bit isn’t too annoying…but my first thought was along the lines of truth in advertising. Take the guy, with uniform, to the front lines of some conflict, give him a loaded rifle, and tell him to have at it. Probably a bit difficult to arrange, so maybe a simulated sort of deal…a drop off in Klan uniform into Chicago on a weekend night. You don’t even have to wear boots…running shoes allowed.

  4. LCPL Martinez USMC

    at LAX, my SSgt. who sported dual cools (was Recon), grabbed a chest full of some poor PFC’s pretend Scuba and Gold Wings, ripped it right off, then told the kid to change over at the USO, LOL! It happens I suppose, Marcus Luttrell’s “SF Sgt” mentor (he had a book that was gonna come out but was canc’ed, forgot his name) and Chris Kyle’s extra ribbons and body counts.

    I figure, it’s like fluffing your resume. Some get caught, some don’t. But the military ‘s complicit in this game also.

    When it comes to civilians playing pretend, I’m more forgiving. Some do it for attention (chicks dig uniforms after all), some for free stuff (Starbucks), and plenty are just plain crazy (these guys we should really give ’em a break).

    But then there’s guys like this one, (these guys we should focus on, but guys who show up in July 4th parades with one too many motto patches,

    give ’em a break ;-) To me there like boot Marines who go to Vegas for New Year’s just so they can wear their Dress Blues , we laugh at them when we see ’em on TV, LOL! )

    1. Hognose Post author

      Nothing wrong with being a cue ball E-1 proud of your uniform. I was one of two guys in my Basic Training platoon who had owned and could tie a tie. We taught a lot of kids who had never owned anything quite so splendid as an Army Green uniform.

      Hillar is notorious. As bad as Gresham.

      1. Boat Guy

        Guilty as charged, though as an E-2 (out of Boot Camp). Wore my greens proudly on many occasions where they were certainly NOT required (but authorized, always). Once I happened onto a set of blues ( a SSgt my size had just made Warrant) as a Cpl I was particularly bad about finding excuses to wear them – to the point of volunteering for Color Guards.


    We have them in Australia, though not as many as you seem to have in the US. I guess our forces are smaller and a lot of people know each other so it’s more difficult to get away with it.

    I only soldiered in peacetime, but even so I got drenched, frozen arsed, and boiled in the sun a thousand times. I had blistered feet and insect bites and thorn sticks and cuts and grazes and chunks taken out of me all over. I’m looking at a big old scar on my hand right now caused by too casual disassembly of an M-60 bolt one day 34 years ao. I’m partially deaf, my back is fucked and my knees are buggered from rucking and running and too much fire and movement.

    So even as a peacetime soldier I suffered for my country, many suffered far more than me in peace and war, and that’s why these arseholes piss me off so much. They claim to have suffered honourably when they did not. They’re claiming pain they never felt and scars they don’t have, and I would cheerfully make them suffer now, were I to run across such vermin in the street.

    I’ll also add that even knowing what I know, and being kinda gimped up as I am, if I had the chance, I’d do it all over again in an instant. I’ll be a soldier till the day I die.

  6. GQ

    “scrote” I miss that word. What a great word. I know a guy; Vietnam SF vet and an aviator. A legendary dude. If he wanted my attention he would say, “Hey Scrote!” or if he was feeling happy, “Hey Strap”. Coming from him, it never bothered me. Because if he was talking to you, it was your lucky day.

    Funny, the poseur thing doesn’t bother me either. There a so many posing that are actually in uniform that I can’t tell them apart. Its the ones in service that I want to crush.

      1. Hognose Post author

        As a soldier, always was impressed by Navy cooks, actually. I thought sailors ate well aboard, especially in subs. (I bet it’s not so hood, months into a patrol).

        1. Boat Guy

          Gained a pound a day on my single brief sojourn on an attack boat. They’re DAMN GOOD. Surface ship cooks … not so much. Long’s I’m pleading guilty to stuff (as above) I’ll note that the only times I sampled the mess on my tincan was at breakfast which was the least awful meal aboard.
          Actually as Marines we were pretty impressed with Army chow – which oughtta say something. The first time in an Army chowhall the cooks asked us how we wanted our eggs we looked like the dumb JarHeads we were – “we have a choice?”

        2. John Smith

          I rode a Cruiser in the Gulf a while back and was similarly impressed. That same trip we were on a civilian manned Oiler for a bit though….no comparison. Those union workers demand (and get) the best. I also had a hotel sized room to myself…

  7. Ken

    Here is the problem with getting people whipped up about this: I have read about several cases where people were falsely accused of stolen valor and subsequently assaulted.

    1. Air

      “falsely accused of stolen valor”
      But what were they doing that prompted being falsely accused?
      Maybe, I might wear an old command’s t-shirt or ball cap… I wish I has worn my Navy warfare qual lapel pin at my Mother’s funeral, but I even forgot it then.
      So what was this guy doing?

    2. Hognose Post author

      Haven’t heard of that, but a real Marine Recon vet just recently called bullshit (and ate the resulting crow) on an SF legend, turned OGA contract guy, KIA.

      He caused the family some pain, and came across as a sphincter muscle for the ages.

      It’s generally a good policy to leave the dead rest. Sometimes they have launched a monstrous, enduring lie, and must still be assailed beyond the grave, but that’s rare.

  8. Haxo Angmark

    honestly, why anyone would want to PRETEND to be an Imperial Stormtrooper is beyond me. The real ones are bad enough

    PS – 101st Airborne Div Assoc. has requested my current personal data so as to renew my “honorary” membership from back when. Since I do not wish to be beaten to a pulp, I have not responded.

  9. John Smith

    I love the days that I have been allowed to serve behind our flag. Now that the end of this 25 year ride is in sight, every moment becomes of greater import to me. I take the time to bullshit with the lucky bastards that are just getting started, I revel in the hardships that will soon be behind me and I use my perspective and voice to make things better (when higher will listen).
    ….I’m going to miss it like a mothef#cker.

    This is what these poor fools are after- and what they will never have. Let them pretend. Fuck them.

  10. Tierlieb

    Guys, look at it like that: Few people in Germany would ever dream about posing as ex-military. Respect? A discount? Be happy if you’re not sent to the back of the line. This tells you that in the US being military is still valued.

    I do not completely agree completely with Scott Faith’s article, though:

    a) I consider Airsofters wearing military uniforms completely okay. That’s reenactment too, plain and simple. Not wearing an Airborne tab on some 101st display (because you haven’t earned it) is bad reenactment, it belongs there. The art of reenactment is hitting the right amount of detail.

    b) I am quite okay with letting other people assume stuff and even plain lying in some cases. An occasional training partner of mine accepts being called a “legionnaire”. Didn’t serve in the French or the Spanish FL (which I keep forgetting about). He just understood that by “foreign legionnaire” people here mean “mercenary”. He worked for a PMC and he got tired of explaining a lot, especially since you need to not only explain the difference but also the definitions of all three which deviate from what they are commonly understood to be. If you define the FFL as “cooler” than, say, EO, he would qualify as a poseur by Scott Faith’s article.

    1. Y.

      Why not just call himself a mercenary? It’s a pretty cool term. Legionnaire is such a statist term, mercenary has connotations of honest free enterprise unburdened by red tape and such..

      1. Tierlieb

        I like the term, too. I think we both have a positive connotation of that (“professional soldier that works for money”). Most people don’t. And switch languages and you got even more problems. People around have usually no idea what happened in the 30-years-war, but ‘Söldner’ seems to still have an air of pillaging and burning. An attitude that got updates with guys like Mike Hoares’ contemporary “Kongo-Müller” in the 60s (they did a well-renowned hack piece on him in East Germany).

        Besides that the Geneva conventions are also not too kind to mercenaries, which luckily is very ill-defined term. Hence the running gag that if you ever get convicted as mercenary as a PMC, you are free to shoot your no-good-lawyer.

        1. Y.

          I was being sarcastic. Well, I think I was. But it’s an accurate term, and it’s worth nothing that not all mercenaries at all times were hell on civilians. And at the time of 30 years’ war, all armies were, not just the mercenary ones (though the state armies wouldn’t turn back and sack the country that sent them out if they weren’t paid)

          But then, the distinction would be lost on most, so I guess that’s why the newspeak term PMC is used instead. It seems a bit like euphemism treadmill – PMC’s are already stock villains in most new media, so I imagine a new term will arrive any decade now..


    Those guys. truly are the evolutionary step below a liberal democrat/neo-commie/SJW.

    I am gonna make a very un expert opinion here and say that i think a big reason laws against this seem to never have wide spread support , is the point of at which a lot of guys seem to draw the line on when one becomes one of those dickshits.

    When the topics turns to this over at Arfcom. I notice a lot of guys declaring anyone wearing a pair of camo pants cause they want to, as a stolen valor case, Once fella who ever had bought multicam for hunting use or for end of the world fantasy saying he through it all away and wouldn’t wear it anymore the minute the Army started to use it.
    I think that is stupid. As you say, It seems the intent is pretty obvious. But a hell of a lot of guys seem to think wearing green wool socks is going too far. I’m not comfortable with the state getting into the business of telling other people what they can and can not wear when there is obviously no intent other than to wear a camo they like for whatever reason OTHER than to make some one think they are Audie Murphy.
    Sometime I wonder if a lot of the more easily asshurt have some absurd standard that might scuttle the chances for a law that needs to pass in this case .

  12. Ti

    Peacetime Army here also.

    Stolen valor is like a microscope into a very strange vision of one’s self. Like an anorexic thinking they are fat, but actually skin and bone death warmed over. What reality they live in – I don’t know.

    My whole life has been spent in technical fields. I have worked w many scientist’s and engineers. I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree. I personally would never represent myself professionally as an “engineer”. As an engineer I worked with once told me, employers were able to co-opt the title of engineer and there fore they were able to pay less than you would for a licensed engineer. The engineer I am citing here has a Professional Engineer’s license from the state we both live in. At a minimum, to call yourself an engineer, I believe you should have a Bachelor’s degree in something.
    Poseur from the top down in a corporate structure. I’ve worked w SEAsian H1B’s and they are some of the worst poseurs. Advanced degrees(at US Uni’s) paid for by rich family and their advisors at american university are more SEAsian professors who make sure they “get the degree”.

  13. mr. sharkman

    From the great article: ‘the people who pretend to be what we are’

    True. A more telling and accurate way to almost say the same thing would be: ‘the people who pretend to be 1/100 of what our Brothers were, before they were taken from us far too early’.

  14. mr. sharkman

    I’ll take it one step further. It’s more than the stealing of ‘valor’. It’s the stealing of shared sacrifice and general suffering and suckage.

    The bottom line is military service is rarely ideal in terms of meshing with an ideal personal life unless you join and serve in one of the ‘ideal categories’. 18, tough-as-nails, hungry for adventure, no wife/kids/concerns/responsibilities outside of becoming the best whatever you’re gunning for your instructors have ever seen.

    I hate these guys even more for every motor pool, tech, support, etc. guy who was overseas in some shithole during Christmas – peacetime or wartime – who had 3 little ones at home and a wife that probably tried but was going to leave his ass because this was 1 Christmas too many and he knows it. And there he is, doing mind-numbing bullshit repetitive ‘work’ that is still very necessary, at 0100, arguing with himself that he’d be better off as an assistant manager at Wal-Mart and the kicker is he’s probably 100% correct in terms of his family and long-term happiness. But he still does his mostly thankless job the right way, thoroughly, and keeps getting up and doing it for the rest of the deployment because that’s what you do.

    That’s the kind of sacrifice that isn’t in war movies, but we all know it ruins lives and takes a human toll as well.

    And then, when dealing with some phony fuckhead who claims he was prowling around the Ho Chi Minh trail…yes he’s stealing the common-uncommon valor of all those MACV-SOG badasses. The funny thing is the people he’s lying to are usually as clueless about the proficiency and hardship being falsely claimed as the phony is.

    But additional anger, for me at least, comes from knowing that the phony scumbag never suffered from the other kind of sacrifice as well. He was probably always home for Christmas, or if he wasn’t it was because he opted to work at double or triple wages. When his Mom was in the hospital with terminal cancer and 2 days left on the earth, he was at her side if so inclined…not trying to say goodbye and thanks for everything over a satphone, which guarantees that Mom is going to be worried about her boy until her last breath.

    100% proper and inclusive punishment really isn’t possible.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I remember some Army Reserve cooks at Camp Vance in 03. They came from the left end of the bell curve compared to anybody going out the wire, but, but… they were so eager and glad to help.

      I still had my ollldd made-from-a-pilot’s-survival-vest gear, and it made their day to try it on.

      Over the years, I ran into three different guys who were support guys assigned to guard Mott Lake Compound or drive trucks, and because the Blue Light or SOT instructors took an interest in them, they went to one selection or another and became operational. If you had extra 9mm ammo to burn at the end of the day, it paid dividends to let the hard-working support dudes try out an MP5. Plus, word got around: “The guys on ODA XXX’s training treated us real good, I got to help with the commo shot, the SOT-A dude let me try on his 100-pound pack, the rangemaster let me shoot his custom .45.” Guys the teamies didn’t even know would come up thanking them for being kind to their buddies… and when you needed ’em, by God the wrenches would turn, the trucks would roll, the helicopter would come off deadline… or there’d be fresh chow when you came out of the field after a month of MLRPs. Plus, the guy who you treated good when he was a support bod could just have it in him to be the junior medic on your last team before retirement.

      I have a great story about a finance clerk and his senior officer in Bagram — BLUF they threw out their beloved rulebook so I could take care of the team when I was stuck there for a while after being medevaced.

      1. GQ

        Amen. This is a key point too in getting a ride around in far away places. A little respect goes a long way.

  15. ToastieTheCoastie

    I’d say 2 of 3 of the following need to be met to be a stolen valor case: Consistent, detailed lies about military service, receiving some kind of real benefit from falsely claimed military service, and wearing full uniforms or honors.

    There’s a big box of nifty unit specific ball caps I have from various cutters. I’d happily hand them out to friends to wear around. Who cares? I was surprised that an exception for hunting even had to be mentioned. I’m all for hammering the people who take it too far, but I think some vets are witch hunting too much.

  16. John M.

    Respect among men is earned by doing respectable things. Stolen valor weasels don’t earn any of that respect, they hijack the respect others have earned.

    There’s a thesis in here also about how the two sexes each approach respect and what that means for the military, but it’s off-topic enough that I’ll can it.

    -John M.

  17. Y.

    Heh. I met in an online wargame who claims he’s 19 and has finished? the BUD/S course and is waiting to ship overseas. I called BS and asked him what his MOS is, and he told me they only get it once they’re assigned to a unit. (now I also note that BUD/S is just beginning of that training, there’s then 28 more weeks of other fun courses)

    Asked him some questions on diving, and he did say vaguely right things when it came to scuba (can’ really tell, not my department) and wasn’t entirely clueless when quizzed on basics of freediving.

    Still, I’m fairly sure he’s bullshitting. Got any good questions I can ask which a poseur wouldn’t be able to answer?

    1. ToastieTheCoastie

      If he graduated from BUDS, Senior Chief Shipley will check the list for you for a small fee, if it is worth it to you. You will need his real name and his BUDS class number.

      You could ask him if he learned to shoot a Drager (h/t to Senior Chief Shipley). Since a Drager is a brand of diving equipment, not a weapon, that might trip him up.

      An advanced poser will have read all the books and online stuff, so it could be hard to catch someone unless you have the help of a genyooine SEAL.

      1. Y.

        Thanks – hope I remember this.

        So as I read up on this, Navy uses the NEC numbers. MOS is used by Army and USMC.. so the first thing he got wrong was admitting he didn’t know about the difference..

    2. mr. sharkman

      His comments about ‘MOS’ set off my bullshit alarm.

      ‘Waiting to ship overseas’ but not yet ‘assigned to a unit’? Bullshit alarm over-stress failure. He’s got no idea of the training pipeline and the path a guy takes from BUD/S to winding up in a platoon.

      Not going into any detail, to avoid instructing any posers.

      Tell him he’s full of shit.

    3. Aesop

      The real guys spend a fuckton of time in the desert learning their business outside Niland CA (think BFEgypt) at the Chocolate Mountains Gunnery Range, shooting, blowing things up, etc.
      Poseurs, as a rule, know jack and shit about this, unless they are exceptionally and widely well-read.

        1. Y.

          This guy was. I only heard him in the channel and tried to question him for like 15 mins before I had to go.

          Guys who stayed there tell me he probably is a compulsive liar, someone who is unable to tell the truth, he would not say anything they could verify about the game that was true.

          With hindsight, someone having passed basic underwater training for special forces should have been a lot more fluent when quizzed on diving.

  18. Kirk

    It is fairly easy to tell the real ones from the fakes… If he is telling you who he is, and what he did? Like as not, fake. The real deal doesn’t tell you stories of derring-do; his stock in trade is the humorous anecdote about ripping off beer by the pallet-load from the O-club with one of his buddies who didn’t come back from the wars, and he himself is always the butt of the joke, not the hero. You won’t ever find out the details of his war, until you’re looking up his DD214 to try to figure out if you can get some help for his family with the burial expenses–And, about then, you discover that he saw a herd of elephants in his time, and had the citations to prove it.

    I only ever met one blow-hard tale-teller who wasn’t full of shit. I think he was the exception that proved the rule, because everyone else who talked about their own heroism was usually full of shit.

    1. mr. sharkman

      ‘The real deal doesn’t tell you stories of derring-do’

      This. If any Citizen who did not serve in the military is reading these comments focus on this phrase carefully.

      The reason for no talk of ‘derring-do’ doesn’t necessarily relate to ‘quiet professionalism’, either.

      Guys in the same line of work tell war stories all the time – to each other.

      The bottom line is a combat Infantryman telling a friend who never served about his most terrifying moment in combat would be pointless and a waste of time from the Infantryman’s POV.

      Because no matter how close his dear friend was, he wouldn’t ‘get it’. He wouldn’t understand the ‘why’.

      It’s no different than in most specialized professions. Surgeons talk about instances in surgery to – wait for it – other surgeons. Helo drivers, as close as I am to some of them (having sworn my soul and the souls of any unknown or future children of mine as well), well, I’m never going to ask them ‘tell me about your hairiest insert’.

      What would be the point? They’d have to ‘preschool filter’ the tale to give me any true understanding. Sure, they could generalize: ‘The weather was really bad and the terrain was a nightmare and…’ but that’s all vanilla flavor. They aren’t going to chat colleague-to-colleague to me about it because there’s no insight to benefit from coming from my side of the conversation and I’m not a colleague, professionally speaking. So again, what would be the point?

      When tales of unbelievable combat that are actually true reach the extremes where even the Postman can honestly say “Holy shit that sounds like certain death”, because it was THAT BAD – that’s when you get DSC and MoH write-ups for the public to read and hear about…or…everyone involved and everyone on our side who saw it happen wound up KIA.

      A supposed combat veteran telling pure combat ‘tales’ to someone with no shared background and experience is like a guy talking about his woman problems to a 1st grade boy.

      Actually, not exactly the same. The 1st grade kid might have some insight that could be helpful, in the form of ignorance inspired brilliance.

  19. Alan Ward

    I’ll never understand the mindset of the poseurs. My limited service allowed me to meet many men and a few women who were deserving of my respect and admiration, whether they saw conflict or not.
    How anyone could feel comfortable stealing someone else’s light is disgusting beyond words.
    I live for the day when their tiny little self esteem is drawn up before The Judgement Seat and they have to account for this sin!

  20. James F.

    OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: Not a veteran myself. When Hognose talked about how angry people get at this stuff, and how to explain why, I remembered what author David Drake wrote in 2010 about Vietnam-ERA veteran–and Vietnam veteran poseur–Richard Blumenthal, who is now the United States Senator from Connecticut.

    Drake was drafted in 1970 and served with the Blackhorse Cavalry in Vietnam as an enlisted interrogator, since he was bright enough to be taught to speak Vietnamese quickly. He didn’t entirely enjoy the experience, but he’s proud of having associated with the Blackhorse. Here’s what Drake wrote in 2010:

    What follows can be construed as a political comment, at least if one lives in Connecticut. I don’t ordinarily do this (I vote every time, a right I’ve paid for; but I don’t tell other people how to vote), and anybody who wants to skip the rest of this newsletter will not offend me in any way.

    First: a year ago, I could not imagine circumstances in which I would hope that Linda McMahon would become a US Senator. However….

    The Army and Marine Reserves were a significant factor in the First Gulf War and are even more important in the present quagmire. (Quagmires.) Reservists are being treated shabbily and put into extreme danger for uncertain periods of time with inferior equipment. Nothing I say below should be taken as an attack on present-day reservists.

    Something similar was true during WW II–though since what was then the Department of War was run better than Mr Rumsfeld ran Defense, the Reserves weren’t as badly treated relative to regular troops. Reserve troops fought in many of the critical battles both in Europe and the Pacific.

    1970, when Mr Blumenthal served in Washington, DC, and I served in Cambodia and Viet Nam, was different. The Army and Marine Reserves both had “Six and Six Programs” in which the recruit served six months active duty in the US, then spent the rest of his six-year term in the Reserves. Theoretically, the Reserves could have been called up. In reality they never were, and the Reserve recruiters used this fact quite openly to boost their numbers.

    When I got back to the World, I immediately reentered Duke Law School. As I sat in the lounge, I heard two of my new classmates talking about the relative virtues of the ways they were staying out of Nam. One had gotten into the National Guard; the other had been accepted into the Six and Six Reserve Program.

    I wanted to kill them both. They were unquestionably right–why should they have been screwed up just because I had been?–and intellectually I knew that, but for an instant I was furious.

    It isn’t that Mr Blumenthal didn’t serve in Nam or that he got into the Six and Six Program that bothers me. Both those things showed better luck and perhaps better judgment than I showed. If that were the whole story I would happily vote for him under many circumstances, just as I voted for Bill Clinton the first time around even though he lied to stay out of Nam.

    Clinton and I both made decisions and didn’t pretend otherwise. He has no reason to regret his choice any more than have to I regret mine.

    What Mr Blumenthal did, however, was to claim something that he worked _very_ hard to avoid in 1970. He stole something that he could have had as a gift in 1970; hell, he could have had my seat on the back deck of an M48 tank, holding a bloop tube and wearing a bandolier of grenades, if he’d even hinted that he wanted it.

    Mr Blumenthal might make a very good Senator. But he’s no kind of man.

    Sorry for the rant. I hope I never feel compelled to do it again.

    –Dave Drake

    If people want to know why you’re angry, show them that.

      1. mr. sharkman

        I’ve always liked Drake’s writing. There’s a lot of nuance in it that you can tell comes from military experience and a very in-depth understanding of military history.

        If you haven’t read this short story of his (‘The Interrogation Team’)…take 5 min. and do so. I guarantee you’ll consider the time spent worthwhile.

        1. Hognose Post author

          I think the Blogbrother gave me a Drake book a few years ago and I liked it. I’ll read the story.

          ETA: Yeah, good story. Powerful. Some interrogators, cops, CI agents are effective to the extent that they get inside the heads and develop, or at least convincingly feign, sympathy with their subject. Some of them are very conflicted by that.

  21. Trone Abeetin

    The only thing I wore after I got out was my OD field jacket because it was as comfortable AF. Other than that I don’t get why anyone would want to don a uniform after they ETS. Unless they’re full of shit.

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