01/27/2019 by militaryphonies
Nathaniel Alan Phillips, who had previously gone as Nathaniel Richard Stanard – which was his adopted name, has been in the news lately due to a controversy in Washington D.C. involving a group of high school students. Much has been reported on as to what happened, so Military Phony is going to restrict this article on Phillips claims of military service. Phillips currently has an address in Washington D.C. but aslo has an address in Ypsilanti Michigan and grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska.
On January 18, 2019 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., video recordings of an encounter made the news and characterized a standoff between a youth and a Native American Vietnam Veteran.
Suddenly, there were alternate videos posted that questioned the characterization of the encounter and Nathan Phillips’ background as an alleged Vietnam veteran was promoted by the media.
Was he a veteran? Was he a Vietnam veteran? What did he actually say and what did the media misinterpret from his statements?
In an April 18, 2018 article entitled “Return to Standing Rock,” Vogue quoted Phillips as saying:
“You know, I’m from Vietnam times. I’m what they call a recon ranger. That was my role.”
Then, there were several video interviews both past and present. We’ve compiled a few of them here to quickly give people a feel for how Nathan Phillips characterized his military service:
The statements made to print and online media were vague and hard to pin down exactly what Nathan Phillips meant. Some media, not knowing military jargon, interpreted Phillips’ statement to mean that he was a Vietnam vet, even though he used the term “Vietnam time veteran” and “Vietnam veteran times.”
The Department of Defense tends to use the term “Vietnam-era veteran” to describe an individual that was on active duty during the Vietnam War but was not in the theater of operations in Vietnam, or in the country of Vietnam as the war was waged.
The distinction is different for the Korean War since it never really ended and currently is classified as a ceasefire. There is no distinction made in terminology for serving in Korea during the time of heavy military armed conflict and before the ceasefire. If an individual has ever honorably served in Korea as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces from September 3, 1945 to present day, or served outside of Korea June 25, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955, they would qualify to be a Regular Member of the Korean War Veterans Association, Inc.
It is important to keep in mind that each military conflict has its own terminology. Nathan Phillips certainly applied the unique phrase of “Vietnam times Veteran” to characterize his service. Was that intentionally done to have people assume he was in Vietnam? Is that just the way he talks about periods of his life – i.e. Marine Corps times and Vietnam times?
Not really sure, but in the one video put out by the Native Youth Alliance he clearly says he is a Vietnam vet and goes on to make the point that he was in theater. To be 100% accurate, he actually says that the box was checked to say he was in theater, and it could have been an administrative error.
One thing is sure – Nathan Phillips never seems to correct the misconceptions and his nuance of words seem to reinforce people’s belief that he served in Vietnam during the war.
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ACTIONS CONDUCTED BY MILITARY PHONIES
Nathan Phillips’ military records were requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Through various newspaper clippings and based on his own statements, he was adopted and had the name “Nathaniel Richard Stanard” but what was unclear was which name that he served under. Newspaper clippings confirmed that he was using the name “Stanard” while he was both in the Marine Corps Reserve and while he was serving on active duty – then reverting back to his birth name of Nathan Phillips after he got out of the Marine Corps.
Therefore, we accounted for both names when we filed the FOIA request.
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FOIA RESULTS – SELECTED
NATIONAL PERSONNEL RECORDS CENTER – NPRC
FOIA RESULTS – COMPLETE
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Criminal records were critical to understanding this case and tracking Mr. Phillips’ past and his enlistment in the Marine Corps Reserve.
In fact, he had quite a bit of trouble with the law, mostly alcohol-related incidents along with assault and breaking out of prison. At that point in time, it was not uncommon for a judge to recommend full-time active duty. We can’t say for sure, but his court date weeks before going on active duty may offer some clues.
Here are the criminal records that were made available to the public in the local newspapers. Click to enlarge them.
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DISCUSSION and SUMMARY
Nathan Stanard (Phillips) served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1972 to 1976.
For those that are unfamiliar with the Reserve vs. Active Duty – a Reservist drills for one weekend per month and two weeks of active duty per year.
In the case of Nathan Stanard, he did not go full-time active duty until 1974 and he was on active duty for less than two years. He got out as a private (E-1) which is the lowest rank one could have. To those who have served, either on active duty or the reserves, to spend four years and only achieve the rank of E-1 meant there was usually a problem and most likely disciplinary issues.
He was a basic rifleman (0311) for a few days and then qualified as a refrigerator repairman. That is honorable work and many consider that acquiring good trade labor skills is making good use of your time in the military. In the Marines, you can always have a secondary MOS but you are always considered a basic rifleman (0311) as your primary duty.
Some have scoffed at the use of this term. “Ranger” is a term primarily used in the Army, but it was not uncommon to be used in the Marine Corps. There was a cadence song borrowed from the Army that went like this:
“I want to be an Airborne Ranger. Live the life of guts and danger.”
And some Marine units would sing:
“I want to be a Recon Ranger. Live the life of guts and danger.”
“Recon Ranger” referring to Force Reconnaissance or Recon at the Battalion level (0321).
The FOIA summary does not reflect that Stanard/Phillips was in Recon so it is puzzling as to what he meant when he spoke to Vogue magazine. Basic infantrymen do a light version of reconnaissance on occasion so he could have meant it in vague or loose terms. However, coupled with other statements we would lean toward the side of it being purposely misleading.
To put a fine point on this – Nathan Stanard’s military records do not support his claim of being in recon or being in Vietnam.
COMBAT vs. SUPPORT
The waters are indeed murky as far as opinions, which are just that… opinions – and may be unpopular. Some tire of the distinctions between “veteran” and “combat veteran” as if one was somehow special.
Heck, 70% of those who can legitimately call themselves “combat veterans” from the Vietnam War, never heard a shot fired in anger.
Meanwhile, “non-combat Vietnam Era Veterans” died on the USS Liberty, and in South America, during the period. Those killed in Beruit were “non-combat veterans” as were those who were killed on the USS Cole.
Then, there is the distinction made above about Korean War veterans.
The official military records for Nathan Stanard (Phillips) do not support his claims of military service in Vietnam – and he did say he served in Vietnam.
We believe this is a case of leading a horse to water and not taking responsibility for his drinking. It is a form of deception.
It is like the individual that says “my unit served in Vietnam” and they are asked for clarification if the person speaking served in Vietnam, to which they repeat in a stern tone “my unit served in Vietnam.” They leave out the part that they joined a unit years after it pulled out of Vietnam and they personally did not set foot in Vietnam, but they have left the person with the impression that they served in combat in Vietnam.
If these claims were leveraged by Phillips for something of value over the years, including accolades for speaking engagements which in turn were opportunities for soliciting donations, Phillips may be in violation of the Stolen Valor Act.
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