James W. Fritch – Beirut Search and Rescue Team; Anti-Terrorism Recon Unit; ODS Recon Team in Iraq; Blog of Shame


05/07/2016 by militaryphonies


Recently, James Fritch was featured on Saturday February 5, 2016 in the regular ‘Meet A Veteran’ section of the Norwich Bulletin in Norwich, Connecticut. The article was written by Jaclyn Diaz ( email: jmdiaz@norwichbulletin.com ), a journalist with the Norwich Bulletin. The editor is Scott Albright. The original article is not available, but here is a scanned version… (Note: Text version follows for easier reading)

fritch - Norwich Bulletin CT - 06 FEB 2016

Below is a text version to make it more easily readable…

Norwich Bulletin (CT)
February 6, 2016
Section: CT News Page: 3


Vet witnessed Beirut bombing

He helped with search and rescue in aftermath

In the service: James Fritch, 57 of Plainfield, followed a family tradition and enlisted in the military as a reservist at 22. He went active duty at 23 and served from 1980 to 1992, first in the Air Force and then the Army. “It always seemed like a thing to do,” he said. “My family has always served in the military, either here in the states or in Germany. So I was just following tradition.” Fritch started off in the Air Force as a law enforcement specialist. He transferred to the Army to train in medicine and special operations and served as a special forces medical specialist. “I loved everything,” he said of his time in the military. “The camaraderie, the pride everyone took in the job they were doing. The ability to serve my country was a joy.” Fritch was in Beirut in 1983 when the Marine Compound was bombed, killing 241 U.S. military personnel, and was in country during the U.S. embassy bombing that killed 63 people and the 1984 bombing of the U.S. embassy annex building. On the day of the Marine Compound bombings, Fritch and his unit were in their tents only a kilometer away. When they heard the blast, his unit rushed to the barracks and tried to rescue survivors and remove bodies from the rubble. For two weeks after the attack, Fritch helped identify bodies, working 18 to 20 hours a day. “We tried to return them to their families,” he said. Fritch served for a total of seven months in and out of Beirut as part of a small unit focused on anti-terrorism and finding terrorist leaders in Lebanon. Fritch also took part in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq as a reconnaissance team, but in 1992, old injuries forced him to retire. “I didn’t want to leave my buddies,” he said. “We were very close-knit.”

Life after the service: Once he returned, Fritch did odd jobs while he was recuperating. He started work as a paramedic in 1994 and has been working in that field ever since. Fritch has worked as a paramedic for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and works now at the American Medical Response office in Putnam. He also works part-time with KB Ambulance in Danielson, as a medic. Recently, Fritch completed a novel, the first of a series he plans to publish, called “Shadow Ops.” “I worked on that for four years, I’m looking for a publisher now,” he said. “I’m in the middle of writing two other books and started another book on the start of the American Civil War.”

Quotable: Fritch said he will never forget the day of the Beirut Marine Compound bombing. “We were rustled out of our bunks. We felt the shockwave first before we heard the blast. It felt like a nuclear bomb went off. We looked outside and there was a huge cloud,” Fritch said. “We all went over there with our vehicles and we started digging out the people we could find. There weren’t many and I had some friends there that didn’t make it.”

Copyright 2016, Norwich Bulletin, All Rights Reserved.

From the article above, we can establish the following claims made by Fritch:

* Served in the U.S. Air Force in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983
* Was in country for the US Embassy Bombing in Beirut on 18 Apr 1983
* Was in country for the Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing on 23 Oct 1983
* Witnessed the Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing on 23 Oct 1983 – lost friends
* Rescued survivors of the Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing on 23 Oct 1983
* Was in country for the US Embassy Annex Bombing in Beirut on 20 Sept 1984
* Served in Beirut in anti-terrorism unit focused on finding terrorist leaders
* Took part in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq as part of a reconnaissance team

In addition, Fritch claims in the article above that he “served as a special Forces medical specialist”. This claim is supported by the photos he posted on Facebook.

fritch - special forces ranger airborne

fritch - loved that gun

Fritch has even suggested that he is writing a new book. Based on his experiences?

fritch - book

Since the published article about James Fritch raised a few flags, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was initiated.

. . . . .


As far as Beirut, Lebanon is concerned…

fitch - selected usaf

fitch - selected awards

As far as Iraq/ODS are concerned…

fritch - selected us army

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. . . . .



James Fritch’s official military records do not show that he was in Beirut, Lebanon. They also show he was stationed at Rhein-Main in Germany at the time of all three bombings in Beirut, Lebanon.

Many of the Beirut casualties were evacuated to Germany. The living were taken to the Weisbaden Air Force Hospital and Landstuhl Army Hospital and the fallen were subject to remains identification at a temporary facility set up nearby for that purpose. It appears that Fritch participated to some degree with that effort, but it was impossible for him to be in a tent one kilometer away from the Marine Headquarters in Beirut when it was blown up on 23 Oct 1983 – at least as far as his records are concerned.

In fact, two Air Force Meritorious Medal awards (in the US Army FOIA results) specifically say that Fritch was in Germany during that span of time.

People that were part of the remains identification efforts in Germany were consulted.

The 435th SPS (Security Forces) were assigned to Rhein Main. The only Security Forces units that worked the tents were from the 435th and the 62nd out of McChord (Washington State).  A then E-6 from the 435th SF had never heard of Fritch.


Fritch’s records also do not support his claim of being part of a anti-terrorism team that went in and out of Beirut to search for terrorists. If true, this would be reflected in the Assignments section.

Although it is true that a secret covert team was assembled, it consisted of a five-man undercover unit from the Pentagon’s supersecret Intelligence Support Activity (ISA) lead by LtCol Bill Cowan USMC (ret). There is no indication that this team consisted of active duty assets. They came back to the US in early 1984 and did not return. Fritch stated that he was in Beirut, Lebanon during the US Embassy Annex bombing in Sept 1984.

Does it seem likely that ISA would use an active duty Law Enforcement Specialist from the US Air Force to be a part of covert, anti-terrorism efforts in Beirut, Lebanon?  One would have to accept this to believe Fritch’s story. One would also have to accept that Fritch was in two places at once – Beirut at the time of the Marine Barracks bombing and in Germany. Although conceivable they could have shuttled him back and forth based on a critical need for his skills, there’s nothing in his record to suggest this.


There has been a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that allows people affected by the Beirut bombings to be compensated from frozen Iranian assets. The Stolen Valor community has seen a drastic spike in people claiming to be in Beirut at the time of the bombing and/or helped in the on site recovery operations.

NOTE: The term used in Beirut for efforts in the aftermath of the bombing on 23 Oct 1983 was actually Search and Recovery (SAR) vs. Search and Rescue, the latter term being used by James Fritch.

Since some of those that participated in the Search and Recovery (SAR) operations are also included in the lawsuit judgement, it stands to reason that the number of claimants will increase. Many are legitimate, but a good number are not and never set foot in Beirut.

While we cannot know an individual’s motivation for claiming to be in Beirut when the bombing occurred, we cannot help but think that some have a financial motivation for doing so. The same is true for Fritch as we cannot say what his motivation is for claiming he was in Beirut when his records do not support such a claim, but the timing is oddly suspicious. Then again, he could have been making these claims for years. Which is the less egregious scenario – recent claims or claims that have been around for years?


There is nothing in his record to suggest he was a Special Forces medic.

The tabs and patches in the photo he posted on Facebook are not supported by assignments and awards. The “chocolate chips” desert camouflage, however, are indicative of ODS/S.

fritch - tabs2


There is nothing in his record that supports Fritch’s claim that he was in Iraq or Desert Shield/Storm for that matter. Most of the US troops were pre-staged in Saudi Arabia in 1990 vs. Iraq. When Desert Storm kicked off in 1991, the bulk of US troops did not travel north into Iraq, although there were some. This would have been rare during Operation Desert Shield.

To believe Fritch’s story one would have to believe he was plucked from his unit to participate in a covert operations reconnaissance team in Iraq, but his records indicate that he was stationed in a school in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

fritch - us army assignments


Even if there is an explanation for some of these inconsistencies, if you take them as a whole, there is a lot that doesn’t add up and so it is fair to say that it enters the territory of “if-then-but” exceptions.

What is safe to say is that James W. Fritch’s service claims are not supported by his official military records.

If Fritch has a reasonable explanation for every inconsistency and has the proper documentation to support his claims; then he should probably ensure that the supportive documentation makes its way to the National Personnel Records Center.

If he would claim that his assignments were classified and won’t be found in his records, why is he talking to the newspapers and telling his stories?  Or maybe it will all be explained in his forthcoming book?

Many families and veterans were affected by the tragedies in Beirut, Lebanon. James Fritch appears to have served honorably and provided some support role in Germany, but he was not in Beirut.  To claim being there and participating in the rescue of survivors and digging out bodies of the fallen crosses a line in the eyes of many people if Fritch was not actually there.

If Fritch cannot back up his claims and explain why none of them are supported by his official military records, it is our belief that he is stealing valor in one of the worst ways imaginable — off the backs of grieving family next-of-kin and servicemembers that lost brothers in those bombings.

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fritch - facebook

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jim.fritch.7

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This Ain’t Hell: http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=65651

16 thoughts on “James W. Fritch – Beirut Search and Rescue Team; Anti-Terrorism Recon Unit; ODS Recon Team in Iraq; Blog of Shame

  1. Al Sandrik says:

    I participated in the triage and treatment of the BLT 1/8 survivors aboard the USS Iwo Jima and was ashore with the 24th MAU Hq in July and August 1983. If you did in fact participate in trying to secure the Fallen remains in Germany, as so many USAF personnel did and suffered mental anguish for, you have my personal gratitude for that act.

    As to your apparent lying about being in The Root and leaching off the reputations and efforts of those who were there let me just say, if true,…

    Fuck you asshole!

  2. Major Robert T Jordan, USMC (Retired), 24 MAau PAO, Aug 16-Nov 30 1983 says:

    The only U.S. Air Force personnel attached to 24 MAU were a couple of dog handlers — and they were not there very long.

  3. Jeff Bucchi says:

    How dare you disgrace the memory of my fallen brothers. May your lying ass rot in hell!

    Jeff Bucchi
    Beirut Vet

  4. Tim says:

    Another piece of shit lying ass poser…. You are a disgusting asshole…It’s too bad you can’t be prosecuted for this CRIME! You are a disgrace to any military branch and a disgrace to the families of those killed in Beirut as well as the men who really lost Brothers…. Not only on 10/23/83. But those who were killed before and after…. All 270….There’s a special place in hell for you…. Too bad all your FB friends and family don’t know who and what you really are!

  5. Nicholas Mottola says:

    Nothing lower than to ride the coat tails of true heroes. Jim Frisk, may you rot a special place of hell you sorry piece of shit. 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion 8th Marines 22nd MAU Grenada / Beirut 1983-84. 273 KIA + 1 Never Forgotten.

  6. Nicholas Mottola says:

    You sorry as piece of shit Jim Frisk there’s no lower than to ride the coattails of the real heroes. There’s a special place in hell for Motherfuckers like you to rot urning in eternal damnation.
    Nicholas Mottola USMC (retired)
    2nd Combat Engineer Battalion 8th Marines 22nd MAU Grenada / Beirut 1983-84 273 KIA + 1.
    Never Forgotten.

  7. […] folks at Military Phony sent us their work on this James Fritch fellow who did an interview with the Norwich Bulletin (the […]

  8. Tim Law says:

    About the only branch you didn’t offend with your deception was the Coast Guard. You made the Air Force look bad, misrepresented yourself under the name of the Army and Special Forces, dishonored Navy and Marine troops that were on the ground and working hard to save lives on the ships, and insulted the Marines and their healing community beyond words.

    Now for the newspapers and the communities that bought your lies….you have a long road ahead of you to mend your wrongs. It must start with the Marines and the families that were affected by the tragic events in Oct 1983. How may you ask can you start? I’d suggest typing up a formal letter of apology and posting it on the sites (to include this one) that exposed you. The longer you wait, the worse off it will be.

  9. Peter says:

    James Fritch is a Lying Coward whom Disgraced “”ALL VETERANS! Including me, as I was a Friend of his as we both entered US AIR FORCE Basic Training on December 7, 1981 from AFEES SPRINGFIELD, MA.
    He “IS” one of those people who are deluded into believing they are above every one else. He always bragged about being involved in terrorist attacks while stationed at Rhein Main AB, GERMANY but I NEVER Was able to confirm the tales he told me, I was stationed at Langley AFB, VA then BITBURG AB, GERMANY (1/1984-1/1986).

  10. Paul L. Yott says:

    It is a crying shame, that so many men who claimed to be in Beirut, and earn Awards, but did not serve in Beirut, or serve in the Military, wants fame and intention for themselves. It is a disgrace, and it dishonor the Branches that did serve in these operations, as well as to the families who lost love ones. This posers, and thieves sickens me. If they did serve in the Armed Forces, it should be good enough, but to claim to be in Combat or hostiles when not, is very wrong, and they should suffer some kind of punishment for dishonoring the memories of those who have fallen, or have suffered wounds, and mental illness. To those who have served, regardless of MOS, or where you have been stationed at, you have my appreciation, gratitude, and respect. To those who didn’t, go screw yourself.

  11. CTParamedic says:

    Let me start by saying thank you to all of the men and women on here that have dedicated their lives to serve this country honorably with our misrepresentation. I am not military however come from a military family. I am a CT paramedic and have been doing emergency medicine in CT for 19 years. I worked with Jim for many years and have been subject to his MANY exaggerated stories of his valor, dedications and experiences. To his credit Jim is a dedicated paramedic in CT and has saved/help many of lives in his work areas. He is the type of guy who would give you his last penny if it meant it would help you more then him. But this does not excuse him nor forgive him for his lies. This is not the first time that Jim has been called out on his stories. As a paramedic Jim has been caught taking credit for calls he was not apart of for exaggerating the details to make his actions seem more heroic. I’ve actually had Jim tell stories and take credit of doing calls I did to my face. So it does not surprise me that he would do the same with his military record. The part that I hate the most is that this exposure will in no way change his actions. Jim will not be affected by this. He will just continue to tell his stories to new people that will listen to him and do not know of this exposure. He is a glory hound and must always have a story to make himself look good.

  12. Connecticut Medic says:

    Alright, so. Ive known Jim a long time. He and I are Paramedics in the same area in Connecticut. He has been singing the secret squirrel song for as long as I can remember. He has every sticker imaginable on his car- long tab, CIB, Airborne, etc. I myself am a 3 tour vet of the current generation (Beirut and DS were before my time), so I was never able to call him out (he tells a damn good story, even has pictures that make it look like he’s in an ODA in the early 80’s). My take after reading all this is that he told the story for so long, eventually for him it became true. I dont think I’ll ever understand why he couldnt just be proud of playing the part he did in the Beirut bombing (identifying the departed and repatriating them carries no higher honor if you ask me). What he’s done is pretty despicable, but I would ask the reading audience to consider that the service he DID do was honorable, and as a Paramedic he has dedicated his life to saving others- and he takes that quite seriously. Doesnt excuse stealing valor, not in the least, but in my eyes it atones for it at least partly. I also wouldnt worry about him gaining any press for his book. He’s not exactly Tom Clancy. Then again, I should have probably guessed that a guy who was never SF wouldnt know shit about them, and would never be able to write a whole book that people might actually read.. (At least Mr. Clancy took a field trip to Bragg and met the guys before he wrote his books..)

    Im asking the admins to keep my name out of this. I still know this guy, and I dont need any of this shit coming back.

    • Al Sandrik says:

      Thank you and I, for one, appreciate you situation.

      I totally agree with you in that…

      “I don’t think I’ll ever understand why he couldn’t just be proud of playing the part he did in the Beirut bombing (identifying the departed and repatriating them carries no higher honor if you ask me)”

      …All of the personnel involved in the rescue operations, triage/treatment of the wounded, and recovery and repatriation of our fallen have my highest respect. That even includes this gentleman if he indeed did play a role at Rhein-Main AFB. Problem is now it’s hard to tell was he there or was that a lie as well, and that is were my respect is lost.

      Also, if i might add, there were a lot of us with unusual deployments, Personally, I was TAD to the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) HQ when the USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) went on liberty in late July to Mid-August. I was ashore to back fill on a need for weather support when that vessel departed but wound up under hostile fire for a few days. Also as a civilian trained EMT (First Aid Squad and work experience) I triaged and treated WIA on the Iwo Jima on the 23rd even though I was never, and never have claimed to be, a “Doc.” So a guy like this calls into question our honorable service. I don’t think these guys think about the disrespect for the Fallen, the wounded, the families and the vets who WERE there.

      So thank you for coming forward.

      • AF1 says:

        He did NOT! James was just a Security Policeman at Rhein Main AB During & After Beirut Terrorist attacks happened.

Comments are closed.


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