Eric Joseph Johnson – US Army, Wounded OEF Veteran, OP Anaconda, Blog of Shame

11

09/18/2016 by kbw83

“I was homeless and on the verge of suicide after coming home from Afghanistan.
It took me nearly 10 years to stop being hyper aware of my surroundings and
actually be comfortable in public places.”   –   Eric Johnson

johnson-dossier

BACKGROUND

Eric Joseph Johnson is very active on Twitter and Reddit.  He has changed his name several times.  He goes by “TrollingThunder”, “Problematic Johnson”, “Metalmartyr” and currently “Martial Daww”.

His physical appearance, much like his names on social media, changes often.

johnson-facebook

He can be identified by his unique neck and arm tattoos, however.

johnson-trendolizer-tm

johnson-twitter-martial-daww


johnson-starbucks
johnson-mugshot

A photo of Johnson’s face is quite rare, as he seems to prefer memes instead.

johnson-martial-daww

. . . . .

CLAIMS

On one of Johnson’s Twitter accounts, which also links ‘Problematic Johnson’ to ‘MetalMartyr’, he claims he was wounded during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan.

johnson-problematic-johnson-twitter

Vulneror non Vincor” is the Latin motto of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge.  This means “I am wounded, not conquered.”

On Reddit, ‘MetalMartyr’ reveals himself to be Eric Johnson.

johnson-metalmartyr-eric-johnson2

On Reddit, Johnson/’MetalMartyr’ claims that he was in Afghanistan in 2002-2003 as part of Task Force (TF) Rakkasan during Operation Anaconda. He’s certain that he has killed people but he doesn’t want to know how many he has killed.

johnson-afghanistan2

On a ‘TrollingThunder’ account on Reddit, Johnson links to his ‘Martial Dawww’ account on Twitter.

trollingthunder-martial-dawwwLink: https://www.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/comments/4kn9o4/notch_has_hit_minimum_giveafuck_called_a_dick_by/d3g9grk?st=it7rub18&sh=a46af375

‘Martial Daww’ links himself to being Eric Johnson in this review.

As ‘TrollingThunder’ on Reddit, he claims to have been part of the 187th Infantry (Raider Rakassans) in 2002-03 in Afghanistan.

johnson-rakkasans

In response to a question on Reddit, Eric Johnson claims that the worst way he has ever woken up was during incoming rockets in Afghanistan.

johnson-wakeup

Johnson also implies that his experiences in Afghanistan combined with being homeless prompted thoughts of suicide.

johnson-homeless-suicide

He claims he was a homeless blogger writing in bars. (as user ‘tossed_away’ on Reddit)

johnson-tossed_away

Johnson also claims he was convicted of manslaughter for killing someone in a bar.

johnson-manslaughter-story

There are many variations of these same claims.  People can search themselves on Reddit by using the below search engine and plugging in the users ‘TrollingThunder’, ‘MetalMartyr’, Problematic Johnson’ and ‘Martial Dawww’. Then use the keywords ‘Afghanistan’, ‘Anaconda’, ‘Rakkasan’, etc.

Reddit Comment Search: https://redditcommentsearch.com/

. . . . .

Eric Johnson’s official military records were requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

. . . . . 

FOIA RESULTS – SELECTED 

johnson-summary-sheet2

johnson-assignments

johnson-dodmdc-selected

. . . . .

FOIA RESULTS – COMPLETE

NPRC FOIA dod-mdc

. . . . .

DISCUSSION & SUMMARY

DISCUSSION

Absense Without Leave

It appears that Eric Johnson went AWOL soon after completion of boot camp.  Maybe he went on leave after boot camp and never returned?  He was Dropped From the Rolls (DFR) in May 2001. He returned from DFR in Feb 2002 and was immediately discharged.

Highly doubt he was then sent to Afghanistan in 2002-2003 as he claims.

Second DoD MDC Results

Of note is the second result from DoD Manpower Data Center which shows a second active duty term from 05 May 2002 to 22 Jan 2004.

johnson-dodmdc-both
Results from this database sometimes reflect service obligation vs. actual service. It is highly doubtful that after almost a year of being AWOL and discharging Johnson that the Army would have pulled him back in and sent him to Afghanistan, so we tend to feel the second DoD Manpower Data Center result reflects obligated time.  His enlistment start date was 23 Jan 2001 and his enlistment end date was 22 Jan 2004 so this further supports the conclusion that it reflects service obligation vs. actual time spent on active duty.

Medals (or lack of)

Since Johnson was awarded no medals, this does not support his claim of being in Afghanistan in 2002-2003.  He would have had campaign medals for Afghanistan.

Most importantly – no Purple Heart for wounds sustained in combat.

Assignments

There is no assignment that reflects Johnson serving with the 187th Infantry.

Criminal

Military Phony mentions criminal records when it seems pertinent to the case file. In this case, since he has a common name it is hard to pinpoint his story about serving three years in prison for manslaughter. We cannot confirm or deny.

An assault charge in Texas is linked to him but we’re not sure if that is related to his bar story about a manslaughter charge. Doubtful since this charge was 2009 and he claims the bar fight was 2003.

We do know that he has been extremely transient. He originated from Newport News VA and has lived in VA, MO, AL, TX, FL, OH and NV.  We suspect that his Facebook page of places he’s lived is probably accurate. He currently lives in Nevada.

SUMMARY

Eric Joseph Johnson’s military claims are not supported by his official records.

. . . . .

PHOTOS and SOCIAL MEDIA

PHOTOS

johnson-problematic

johnson-fb

johnson-mugshot

. . . . .

SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK#1: https://www.facebook.com/TheTrollingThunder [now deletedpic]

TWITTER#1: https://twitter.com/martialdawww

TWITTER#2: https://twitter.com/metalmartyr

TWITTER#3: https://twitter.com/TrollingThundr [not active]

REDDIT#1: https://www.reddit.com/user/metalmartyr/

REDDIT#2: https://www.reddit.com/user/TrollingThunder/

Also…

Johnson has created at least one fake Facebook profile to create a witness to his supposed military service:  https://www.facebook.com/dwayne.rakkasan [now deleted]

. . . . .

thisainthell-johnsonThis Ain’t Hell: http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=68002

 

11 thoughts on “Eric Joseph Johnson – US Army, Wounded OEF Veteran, OP Anaconda, Blog of Shame

  1. StolenValorNV says:

    Eric, I bet you wish that you hadn’t made your Facebook profile so public now! It was so easy to obtain your middle name and birthdate from your FB profile. PUBLIC INFORMATION. You said that you weren’t trying to hide. Were you hoping that people weren’t smart enough to put the pieces together? Maybe it’s time for you to come clean, instead of still insisting that you were in blown up in Afghanistan, had your benefits cut, and were a homeless veteran when you got back (I saw what you posted on Dysfunctional Veteran’s FB page). When you were called out on Twitter about lying about your military service, you stated that you didn’t owe anyone any answers. I hope you didn’t think you were going to lie about fighting in a war and get away with it. Want to start by providing your DD-214? Or do you want to come clean? Let me remind you that altering a DD-214 is a crime…The truth shall set you free!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] folks at Military Phonies sent us their work on this fellow, Eric Joseph Johnson, who is a fairly prolific writer at Twitter […]

    Like

  3. Barb says:

    How do we know that the documents on this website aren’t altered? I find it hard to believe that Eric lied about this. How did this website get a copy of his military records? Why are you embarrassing him?

    Like

    • arhauptiii says:

      Reading apparently is not your strong point, so I’ve copied this for you: Eric Johnson’s official military records were requested through the Freedom of Information Act.

      Like

  4. Ted Dalton says:

    This is Total B.S. I was a real member of Task Force Rakkasan. First, we were deployed for roughly 7 months, from January 2002 to July 2002. So this dude’s claims of being deployed from 2002-2003 are BS. The 82nd Airborne replaced us in July of 2003. He also stated he was a Raider Rakkasan (2nd Battalion) I too was in second battalion. I was in Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon. I was a 240 Machine gunner that was in Operation Anaconda. Also, outside of Operation Anaconda, we did not see much action besides some QRF missions. This was in 2002 and the war really hadn’t popped off yet. So his other tales of fire fights and Kunar province rocket fire are B.S. as well. This dude was never there, was never a Rakkasan and is a scum bag. Usually these loser’s inflated military claims do not bother me much but this time it is personal. His military papers say it all; he was some AWOL dirt sack that had every opportunity to serve honorably and earn his own valor. Instead he took the easy way out and just made up a bunch of lies trying to take credit for things that real soldiers earned.

    Like

    • So Disgusted says:

      Ted, thank you for your service and for the sacrifices you made. Eric is possibly a pathological liar. I think he’s lied so much that he’s starting to believe what he’s said. I knew his claims didn’t add up, and I thank Military Phonies for exposing him. What he did was so pathetic and despicable. If any of his family members or friends (Barb) believe that he was in Afghanistan, I implore you to obtain his military records yourself! Eric can at any time provide his DD-214, but he choses not to, because he knows what is posted on this website regarding his military records is the truth. Eric, instead of having your minions come to this page to defend you, how about you show them your military records? How long are you going to continue with this lie?

      Like

  5. Eric Johnson says:

    I see people speculating about what may cause someone to do this. I don’t know what drives other people, but I can try to explain why I did. I tend to be long winded, but I’ll attempt to make my points as quickly as possible.

    I despise my rash decision in early April 2001 to slip out of Ft Benning one afternoon while on light indoor duty profile due to a foot injury. In a life full of disappointments and stupid choices, this is still the one that eats at me the most. I had joined the Army infantry for the wrong reason. My ASVAB scores were high enough that I could have had my pick of MOS. Instead, I wanted to earn the respect of my role model, someone whose respect I craved my entire life, who I had been estranged from for many years. I chose to go in to the infantry, because I was sure that would prove I was worthy of respect from this person. My recruiter promised me Airborne school, but I ended up assigned as an 11X and during boot camp was made a Bradley Dismount (I think it was 11M at the time). Since I was fairly certain that Bradleys aren’t typically deployed by air, I was disappointed. But I kept going. I wanted to fight in a war, just like my “hero” had, because I thought that would show this person that I wasn’t the complete fuckup that I had felt like I was since I was a child. While at Ft. Benning I discovered that my role model had lied to me about their entire military service and multiple combat tours. I had listened and believed and proudly spread these lies my entire life up to that point. I refused to believe it and was then provided with concrete evidence, more damning even than what is posted here about me. I was completely blindsided. Devastated doesn’t even describe how I felt. I couldn’t even wrap my head around this news, and instead of speaking to someone or trying to tough it out, I just lost my shit and left. I deeply regret that.

    I walked into a recruiting office in early 2002 and said that I was AWOL and wanted to know how to go back. The recruiters called the police, I was taken to county jail, and there I waited for a week or so until I was released and handed a bus ticket to Ft Knox. After a bunch of processing and waiting around at Ft Knox, a few men called me into an office to sign paperwork. I believe there was a JAG (I may be incorrect), an E7 and an Officer who did the talking. I immediately asked if I could go back to Benning and complete OSUT. It wasn’t too long after 9/11 and like most everyone in America, I was pissed and wanted to go fight. I had mostly gotten over the rage and feelings of betrayal at that point (so I thought), and wanted to do what I promised to do. Unfortunately due to how long I was gone, the fact that I had been arrested a couple of times while I was “on the lam” (I have no clue why my deserter status never came up during those arrests), and probably just the fact that my face pissed the decision makers off, my request was firmly denied. I wonder sometimes if I had told them what happened and why I bitched out if it would have made a difference. At the time I was worried that if I told them they would somehow make life difficult for my former role model. In the meantime I had alienated everyone who gave a damn about me and I had nowhere to go. When I stepped off the bus in Ohio I didn’t know who to call or where to go. I was a mess. Within three months I was homeless. They put a notation, or a code, or something on my DD-214 that immediately told recruiters that I could not reenlist. I know that because I tried, and even asked if there was a waiver available because “I really mean it this time”. I was told that wasn’t possible. I found out a few years ago that there actually was a possibility of getting a waiver and re-evaluation, but at that point I was over 35 and too deep in my self dug scumpond of bullshit to crawl my way out of it anyway.

    Now, before I continue, this isn’t a pity party I’m throwing. I was homeless because of my own choices as an adult. I was arrested multiple times because I’m an asshole. People didn’t want to be around me because I was unpredictable and mean. I’ve tried in the past to blame things that happened during my childhood for my behavior and the decisions I made later in life, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to know that I made those choices on my own. Lots of people grow up in shitty situations and don’t end up like me. I’m just trying to own it and explain how this came to be a post on militaryphony.com and thisainthell.us with my face plastered on it. To do so I wanted to give a bit of backstory.

    Over the next five or so years after leaving the Army I moved constantly. I think that I lived in eight different states and maybe a dozen cities at the time. I was staying wherever I could and working odd jobs until I got bored and just stopped going or let my temper get the better of me and got fired. I’d inevitably alienate the few friends I had made or get dumped by whoever I was shacking up with and I’d just pack up and go somewhere else. It became routine, and I was pretty much numb to it. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew that I was a scumbag who self medicated with copious amounts of alcohol that had nobody he could count on, no more than $100 bucks in my pocket at any one time, and although I wished many times that I could do so, was too cowardly to even kill myself. It was around this time that the paid blogging boom started, and with my one recognizable gift (spinning a pretty decent tale), I had steady work as long as I had access to a computer, and any library in any city had one of those.

    I also discovered reddit and Facebook and Twitter and suddenly I felt like I could be someone else. I could be someone that people respected. I got to be this person I have always wished that I had turned out to be and nobody would ever be the wiser. The problem was that sometimes I’d meet people in real life that I had talked to first online. It got really dicey when it turned out that we liked each other and wanted to hang out. Now I’ve put myself into a situation where they may ask me specifics about my military service and I’d have to lie to their faces. As the years went on, the friends met other friends, and we’d all become close friends. I couldn’t tell my new friends the truth because what if they told my other friends? What about that girl that I’d been talking to? Things were going really well! That would be over in a heartbeat if she knew I had been lying to her from the second we met. So the lies stacked up.

    In a pathetic and ironic turn of events, I had ended up doing the exact thing that shook me hard enough to influence my snap decision to leave the Army in the first place. It snowballed. And kept snowballing. That fucking snowball weighed 10,000 lbs and parked itself right on my shoulders. Just as I was too cowardly to kill myself, I was also too cowardly to come clean. I didn’t even know how I would begin to unravel this mess, and although I wanted to for years, I could never come up with a way to put an end to the stories without hurting people I care about and fucking up my life even more. I considered starting over again, new city, new state, no more lies. Unfortunately I had become too close to some people that I really wanted to keep in my life. I went from feeling better, doing better, staying clean(ish) and actually showering on a regular basis to feeling like a scumbag again. I became suicidal once more, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, it was my first thought when I saw this post, because at my core I’m a selfish, fucked up coward. But I can’t do that. I’ve hurt the person closest to me badly with my lies, killing myself would only make it so much worse for her. I recently heard someone compare killing oneself to a suicide bomb, devastating those closest to you with the destruction and pain spreading out from the center to everyone who cares for you. There aren’t a great many people that would be affected by my death (and some that would applaud it), but those that would be affected don’t deserve to be hurt by me yet again.

    It never even occurred to me that I was doing something awful, because I never set out to hurt anyone. I rationalized it as harmless. I was being completely selfish in an attempt to make myself into someone worthy of respect, and never realized that even though I never profited from my lies, never used any of the available services (I believe there are a few, because I have an OTH Discharge instead of a Dishonorable), never put on a uniform and tried to pass myself off at a function for the real heroes… I didn’t realize that what I was doing was just as bad. As I put it to someone earlier when I was discussing this, a piece of shit that stinks less than the other pieces of shit is still a piece of shit.

    I was surprised when all this came out. I couldn’t comprehend that I had done something so wrong towards vets, or why it was such a big deal compared to most of the other people I see here and at militaryphoney.com. I lied to people I care about and a person that I love dearly, and that’s a really really shitty thing to do, but it just didn’t compute that what I had done was horrible enough to publicly out me, ensuring that I would be forever immortalized as a liar and a coward. I’ve had an obsessed lunatic filing changes of address to divert my mail, posting my home address online, stalking my every move online, harassing my friends and family and threatening my wife for nearly two months. That started well before these posts came out and they’ve only upped their crazy since then. So I slept on it, and I spent a few days thinking it over and eventually I figured it out. I then started writing this, and for the past month I have rewritten and edited it repeatedly while trying to find the courage to just press the “post comment” button. The experiences that I claimed as my own are deeply personal to people that have actually had them. That’s a brotherhood and a camaraderie that I didn’t earn and don’t deserve to be a part of. I used their experiences because I don’t have enough self esteem or self respect to think that people will ever have any respect for the “real” me. And about that I’m absolutely correct. I don’t even know who I am anymore, this has gone on for long enough now that the lie became a part of me. That I didn’t understand the gravity of my actions doesn’t excuse them one bit. That I didn’t understand the utter disrespect that I was showing veterans says a lot about me as a person. None of it good.

    Why would someone fake part (or all) of their military service? I have no idea why anyone else does. Some undoubtedly do it for profit and recognition. I’ve read stories and posts about those people in the past and I have scoffed and called them horrible people, without having the self awareness to realize that I was just as bad. Some probably do it for the same reasons that I did, out of shame and a desire to be respected. People are strange, diverse creatures and I assume there are myriad reasons why someone would tell loved ones that they were an Army Ranger Delta SEAL Team Six Para-Recon fighter pilot with 14 deployments, 137 confirmed hand-to-hand kills and nine Silver Stars. I did it initially to play the person that I wanted to be in “real life” while online in the “make believe” world of the internet, and it got completely out of control. It was a convenient story to explain my frequent nightmares and mood swings when they were brought up by loved ones. The reason behind that are much less interesting and much more difficult to discuss. I did it hoping that people would believe I was something that I am not, someone that they would want to be friends with. I did it simply because I’m a bag of shit that doesn’t deserve any of the happiness I have “earned” with my lies.

    So then, what do most people do when they get caught, I wonder? Some probably come clean pretty quickly. Many likely double down, and swear that everything they’ve said is true, hoping and praying that their friends and family will continue to believe them. They won’t. I imagine that some kill themselves, and that many just end up in a downward spiral of depression and denial that eventually ruins them. I guess it really depends on how much someone has to lose when they’re exposed, or whether or not they are able to handle the fallout and the fact that they will be forever remembered for this, no matter what else they do with the rest of their lives. I suppose that it also matters how much someone is willing to accept that this is the fault of nobody but ourselves. I have no idea what my future holds, but right now I’m not very optimistic. Any future that I try to imagine is forever tainted by my lies. Some phonies have likely built entire careers and families and circles of friends on the backs of their lies. The person that had filled my head with stories of battlefield glory and helped nudge my initial tumble down this rabbit hole certainly has, but I’ve never exposed them or even told them that I know the truth, because the result would be catastrophic and I just can’t be the one that sets those events into motion. Knowing that they’ve probably seen this post and have told others how disappointed they are in me is darkly humorous, but I will live with that and keep what I know about them quiet. In the end I have nobody to blame for this but myself.

    And that’s that. I hope that I never caused any vets pain or brought up awful memories with my stories. The fact that I may have is something that I’ve only just started realizing, and that’s a hard realization. I told you that I tend to be long winded, and I apologize that this ended up so wordy. For those of you that have read all of this, hopefully it answers some of your questions. To the veterans that deserve the respect that I have so often claimed, “sorry” doesn’t even begin to cover what I owe you. I will start with that, though. I apologize to the men (and women) who legitimately serve and have served in combat deployments around the world. To those that gave their lives in service to this country, I used your selfless sacrifice which was earned and paid for in blood and stole the valor owed to you for my own selfish whims. There is no forgiveness for that, nor do I expect to be forgiven. I am truly, deeply sorry.

    Like

    • Dean Brazil says:

      You’re a braver man than you give yourself credit for. To post as you just did was in my opinion brave. And not asking for forgiveness for yourself is a selfless act. Everyone fucks up at times in their lives. You owned up to it and are moving past it now. And you’re even earning respect from it. Well, mine anyway. If others feel that their ‘valor” is more important than a person and can’t bring themselves to forgive and/or respect and/or accept others into their lives then shame on them. That’s their bad and don’t let it affect you. My response isn’t all that long and you don’t know me from Adam but I currently live in Henderson, Nevada and if you ever need someone to talk to or hang with or whatever hit me up. You’re never alone out there. And people need people. You can validate that by considering this…I’ve never been to prison but I know people that have and they say the worst thing that they can do to you in there is put you in solitary confinement. Now you’re already in a place that is supposed to be filled with the worst members of society (murderers, rapists, etc.) and the worst they can do is keep you isolated from them?! Yeah, people need people. And you seem pretty interesting and I’m sure I could learn a few things from the wisdom you attained on your journey thus far in life. I say this because one of the only ways that people attain wisdom and grow spiritually is during times of hardship. When things are going good in life we like to step off that path of enlightenment-through-experience and enjoy the moments of bliss that life seems not so eager to dole out. So I’ll be around if you ever feel like company or whatever. Peace

      Like

      • Respect? says:

        LOL, wow, you’ve really got a thing for this guy! One comment wasn’t enough (http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=68002#comment-2930143)?

        You’re not earning respect from any real people for this lame story. Everyone already knows you like to make multiple profiles Dean/Eric. Everyone already knows you’re a liar.

        Like

      • Eric Johnson says:

        I haven’t been back at either site since a couple of days after I posted my response, but I do find it interesting that you are still monitoring for any comment that might possibly go against the narrative that you have in your head. Claiming that I create multiple accounts for some reason after basically laying everything out and saying “here it is” is silly, but coming from the person who has repeatedly harrasses my friends and family and threatened to murder me and rape my wife when you realized that you hadn’t “destroyed” me enough to satisfy your deranged little plan is something special.

        Speaking of multiple accounts, I’d be willing to bet that if a site admin or moderator were to compare the IP addresses of “StolenValorNV”, “So Disgusted” and “Respect?” here and also “Spyder987”, “Loves2Vape” and “Not Buying It” on thisainthell.com – most, if not all, of those would be suspiciously similar.

        You’ve stated in multiple comments that I need professional help. Well, you’ll be thrilled to know that I have been seeing someone and talking things out. We’ve even discussed the deranged, obsessive stalker who one week messages my wife to tell her how beautiful she is and that she deserves better than me and the following week sends her a message with a Google Streetview image of her office. The person that contacted my former employer and tried to convince them that I was a convicted pedophile on the run from the law. The very same person that filed three change of address forms to have my mail diverted and put my home address all over the internet, while telling Black Lives Matters supporters that I’m a Nazi. You know, basically putting my entire family in danger because I once said something you disagreed with on the internet. If the fact that I lied to some friends and family and told some whoppers on the internet makes me insane, I don’t even know where to begin with a diagnoses for you.

        You may want to consider following your own advice, or at least getting a new hobby.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. arhauptiii says:

    Here you go “Barb”- typed by him and sent to Jonn at This Ain’t Hell: I see people speculating about what may cause someone to do this. I don’t know what drives other people, but I can try to explain why I did. I tend to be long winded, but I’ll attempt to make my points as quickly as possible.

    I despise my rash decision in early April 2001 to slip out of Ft Benning one afternoon while on light indoor duty profile due to a foot injury. In a life full of disappointments and stupid choices, this is still the one that eats at me the most. I had joined the Army infantry for the wrong reason. My ASVAB scores were high enough that I could have had my pick of MOS. Instead, I wanted to earn the respect of my role model, someone whose respect I craved my entire life, who I had been estranged from for many years. I chose to go in to the infantry, because I was sure that would prove I was worthy of respect from this person. My recruiter promised me Airborne school, but I ended up assigned as an 11X and during boot camp was made a Bradley Dismount (I think it was 11M at the time). Since I was fairly certain that Bradleys aren’t typically deployed by air, I was disappointed. But I kept going. I wanted to fight in a war, just like my “hero” had, because I thought that would show this person that I wasn’t the complete fuckup that I had felt like I was since I was a child. While at Ft. Benning I discovered that my role model had lied to me about their entire military service and multiple combat tours. I had listened and believed and proudly spread these lies my entire life up to that point. I refused to believe it and was then provided with concrete evidence, more damning even than what is posted here about me. I was completely blindsided. Devastated doesn’t even describe how I felt. I couldn’t even wrap my head around this news, and instead of speaking to someone or trying to tough it out, I just lost my shit and left. I deeply regret that.

    I walked into a recruiting office in early 2002 and said that I was AWOL and wanted to know how to go back. The recruiters called the police, I was taken to county jail, and there I waited for a week or so until I was released and handed a bus ticket to Ft Knox. After a bunch of processing and waiting around at Ft Knox, a few men called me into an office to sign paperwork. I believe there was a JAG (I may be incorrect), an E7 and an Officer who did the talking. I immediately asked if I could go back to Benning and complete OSUT. It wasn’t too long after 9/11 and like most everyone in America, I was pissed and wanted to go fight. I had mostly gotten over the rage and feelings of betrayal at that point (so I thought), and wanted to do what I promised to do. Unfortunately due to how long I was gone, the fact that I had been arrested a couple of times while I was “on the lam” (I have no clue why my deserter status never came up during those arrests), and probably just the fact that my face pissed the decision makers off, my request was firmly denied. I wonder sometimes if I had told them what happened and why I bitched out if it would have made a difference. At the time I was worried that if I told them they would somehow make life difficult for my former role model. In the meantime I had alienated everyone who gave a damn about me and I had nowhere to go. When I stepped off the bus in Ohio I didn’t know who to call or where to go. I was a mess. Within three months I was homeless. They put a notation, or a code, or something on my DD-214 that immediately told recruiters that I could not reenlist. I know that because I tried, and even asked if there was a waiver available because “I really mean it this time”. I was told that wasn’t possible. I found out a few years ago that there actually was a possibility of getting a waiver and re-evaluation, but at that point I was over 35 and too deep in my self dug scumpond of bullshit to crawl my way out of it anyway.

    Now, before I continue, this isn’t a pity party I’m throwing. I was homeless because of my own choices as an adult. I was arrested multiple times because I’m an asshole. People didn’t want to be around me because I was unpredictable and mean. I’ve tried in the past to blame things that happened during my childhood for my behavior and the decisions I made later in life, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to know that I made those choices on my own. Lots of people grow up in shitty situations and don’t end up like me. I’m just trying to own it and explain how this came to be a post on militaryphony.com and thisainthell.us with my face plastered on it. To do so I wanted to give a bit of backstory.

    Over the next five or so years after leaving the Army I moved constantly. I think that I lived in eight different states and maybe a dozen cities at the time. I was staying wherever I could and working odd jobs until I got bored and just stopped going or let my temper get the better of me and got fired. I’d inevitably alienate the few friends I had made or get dumped by whoever I was shacking up with and I’d just pack up and go somewhere else. It became routine, and I was pretty much numb to it. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew that I was a scumbag who self medicated with copious amounts of alcohol that had nobody he could count on, no more than $100 bucks in my pocket at any one time, and although I wished many times that I could do so, was too cowardly to even kill myself. It was around this time that the paid blogging boom started, and with my one recognizable gift (spinning a pretty decent tale), I had steady work as long as I had access to a computer, and any library in any city had one of those.

    I also discovered reddit and Facebook and Twitter and suddenly I felt like I could be someone else. I could be someone that people respected. I got to be this person I have always wished that I had turned out to be and nobody would ever be the wiser. The problem was that sometimes I’d meet people in real life that I had talked to first online. It got really dicey when it turned out that we liked each other and wanted to hang out. Now I’ve put myself into a situation where they may ask me specifics about my military service and I’d have to lie to their faces. As the years went on, the friends met other friends, and we’d all become close friends. I couldn’t tell my new friends the truth because what if they told my other friends? What about that girl that I’d been talking to? Things were going really well! That would be over in a heartbeat if she knew I had been lying to her from the second we met. So the lies stacked up.

    In a pathetic and ironic turn of events, I had ended up doing the exact thing that shook me hard enough to influence my snap decision to leave the Army in the first place. It snowballed. And kept snowballing. That fucking snowball weighed 10,000 lbs and parked itself right on my shoulders. Just as I was too cowardly to kill myself, I was also too cowardly to come clean. I didn’t even know how I would begin to unravel this mess, and although I wanted to for years, I could never come up with a way to put an end to the stories without hurting people I care about and fucking up my life even more. I considered starting over again, new city, new state, no more lies. Unfortunately I had become too close to some people that I really wanted to keep in my life. I went from feeling better, doing better, staying clean(ish) and actually showering on a regular basis to feeling like a scumbag again. I became suicidal once more, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, it was my first thought when I saw this post, because at my core I’m a selfish, fucked up coward. But I can’t do that. I’ve hurt the person closest to me badly with my lies, killing myself would only make it so much worse for her. I recently heard someone compare killing oneself to a suicide bomb, devastating those closest to you with the destruction and pain spreading out from the center to everyone who cares for you. There aren’t a great many people that would be affected by my death (and some that would applaud it), but those that would be affected don’t deserve to be hurt by me yet again.

    It never even occurred to me that I was doing something awful, because I never set out to hurt anyone. I rationalized it as harmless. I was being completely selfish in an attempt to make myself into someone worthy of respect, and never realized that even though I never profited from my lies, never used any of the available services (I believe there are a few, because I have an OTH Discharge instead of a Dishonorable), never put on a uniform and tried to pass myself off at a function for the real heroes… I didn’t realize that what I was doing was just as bad. As I put it to someone earlier when I was discussing this, a piece of shit that stinks less than the other pieces of shit is still a piece of shit.

    I was surprised when all this came out. I couldn’t comprehend that I had done something so wrong towards vets, or why it was such a big deal compared to most of the other people I see here and at militaryphoney.com. I lied to people I care about and a person that I love dearly, and that’s a really really shitty thing to do, but it just didn’t compute that what I had done was horrible enough to publicly out me, ensuring that I would be forever immortalized as a liar and a coward. I’ve had an obsessed lunatic filing changes of address to divert my mail, posting my home address online, stalking my every move online, harassing my friends and family and threatening my wife for nearly two months. That started well before these posts came out and they’ve only upped their crazy since then. So I slept on it, and I spent a few days thinking it over and eventually I figured it out. I then started writing this, and for the past month I have rewritten and edited it repeatedly while trying to find the courage to just press the “post comment” button. The experiences that I claimed as my own are deeply personal to people that have actually had them. That’s a brotherhood and a camaraderie that I didn’t earn and don’t deserve to be a part of. I used their experiences because I don’t have enough self esteem or self respect to think that people will ever have any respect for the “real” me. And about that I’m absolutely correct. I don’t even know who I am anymore, this has gone on for long enough now that the lie became a part of me. That I didn’t understand the gravity of my actions doesn’t excuse them one bit. That I didn’t understand the utter disrespect that I was showing veterans says a lot about me as a person. None of it good.

    Why would someone fake part (or all) of their military service? I have no idea why anyone else does. Some undoubtedly do it for profit and recognition. I’ve read stories and posts about those people in the past and I have scoffed and called them horrible people, without having the self awareness to realize that I was just as bad. Some probably do it for the same reasons that I did, out of shame and a desire to be respected. People are strange, diverse creatures and I assume there are myriad reasons why someone would tell loved ones that they were an Army Ranger Delta SEAL Team Six Para-Recon fighter pilot with 14 deployments, 137 confirmed hand-to-hand kills and nine Silver Stars. I did it initially to play the person that I wanted to be in “real life” while online in the “make believe” world of the internet, and it got completely out of control. It was a convenient story to explain my frequent nightmares and mood swings when they were brought up by loved ones. The reason behind that are much less interesting and much more difficult to discuss. I did it hoping that people would believe I was something that I am not, someone that they would want to be friends with. I did it simply because I’m a bag of shit that doesn’t deserve any of the happiness I have “earned” with my lies.

    So then, what do most people do when they get caught, I wonder? Some probably come clean pretty quickly. Many likely double down, and swear that everything they’ve said is true, hoping and praying that their friends and family will continue to believe them. They won’t. I imagine that some kill themselves, and that many just end up in a downward spiral of depression and denial that eventually ruins them. I guess it really depends on how much someone has to lose when they’re exposed, or whether or not they are able to handle the fallout and the fact that they will be forever remembered for this, no matter what else they do with the rest of their lives. I suppose that it also matters how much someone is willing to accept that this is the fault of nobody but ourselves. I have no idea what my future holds, but right now I’m not very optimistic. Any future that I try to imagine is forever tainted by my lies. Some phonies have likely built entire careers and families and circles of friends on the backs of their lies. The person that had filled my head with stories of battlefield glory and helped nudge my initial tumble down this rabbit hole certainly has, but I’ve never exposed them or even told them that I know the truth, because the result would be catastrophic and I just can’t be the one that sets those events into motion. Knowing that they’ve probably seen this post and have told others how disappointed they are in me is darkly humorous, but I will live with that and keep what I know about them quiet. In the end I have nobody to blame for this but myself.

    And that’s that. I hope that I never caused any vets pain or brought up awful memories with my stories. The fact that I may have is something that I’ve only just started realizing, and that’s a hard realization. I told you that I tend to be long winded, and I apologize that this ended up so wordy. For those of you that have read all of this, hopefully it answers some of your questions. To the veterans that deserve the respect that I have so often claimed, “sorry” doesn’t even begin to cover what I owe you. I will start with that, though. I apologize to the men (and women) who legitimately serve and have served in combat deployments around the world. To those that gave their lives in service to this country, I used your selfless sacrifice which was earned and paid for in blood and stole the valor owed to you for my own selfish whims. There is no forgiveness for that, nor do I expect to be forgiven. I am truly, deeply sorry.

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