Richard Elmer Johnson – US Army, US Marine SNCO, Purple Heart, POW, Blog of Shame


10/23/2022 by militaryphonies


Richard Elmer Johson comes to us from Chesapeake, Virginia.  At the time of this writing, October 2022, Johnson is 46 years old.

Richard Johnson

Johnson was featured in the November 12, 2020 issue of the magazine “The Flagship” as a nominee in a section that appeared to list candidates for “Military Retiree of the Year.”

Johnson was featured on Page C8 as a nominee. In the profile, it appears that he was an E-5 in the Army and an E-6 in the U.S. Marines – if we are reading that correctly.

He goes on to say that he had an 11-year military career and was a P.O.W. for 12 days during Operation Enduring Freedom until he escaped with his First Sergeant.  He also claims that “while in the Marine Corps I made Staff NCO” and was “part of the 10th Battalion Rangers and attached with the 101st Airborne in the Army.”

A similar profile of Johnson also appeared in Military News, in May 2021 which appears to be a publication related to The Flagship.  It was essentially the same writeup.


It has been reported that for a Veteran’s Day event in 2021, Johnson wore medals on his jacket.  He wore the same jacket and medals later that evening at an American Legion meeting.

The following photos were submitted as proof.

Rich Johnson – Veteran’s Day 2021

Rich Johnson – Veteran’s Day 2021

Rich Johnson – Veteran’s Day 2021

The following photo was edited to highlight the awards.

Richard Johnson – Highlighted awards.

The one medal looks like a Purple Heart.  Another appears to be a GWOT (Global War on Terrorism), but it is hard to tell.

Johnson is the commander of American Legion Post 280 in Chesapeake, VA.  One can see the “280” on his cap in most of these photos.

Richard Johnson – American Legion Post 280 Commander

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The following assertions have been relayed to us via a 3rd party.  We cannot substantiate any of it, so please treat its value accordingly.

  • Many members of the American Legion have asked specifics on the POW claim as well as serving with the Rangers or 101st Airborne – they felt that he hasn’t provided an answer that was truthful in their view.
  • Allegedly Johnson has had family members state he never served much less had been a POW.
  • Johnson has claimed to be an NRA instructor but has asked members of the American Legion for help to pass the qualification.  As a Marine or soldier, the members of the Legion felt he would have known how to shoot so this struck some as very odd.
  • An individual had spoken to Johnson’s family, and a family member had said that Mr. Johnson was JROTC in high school and had always wanted to join the service. He went to boot camp/ basic training (the service branch was not mentioned, however) but did not graduate. There was no reason given as to why he allegedly did not graduate.


All of this doubt and speculation prompted people to contact Military Phony to see if we were could help to get to the bottom of Johnson’s claims.

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Richard Johnson’s military records were ordered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  We had to file with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to account for all claims.

Just to help summarize – both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps pointed to the NPRC as the most likely organization to hold Johnson’s military records.

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FOIA Result – HRC – Richard Johnson – Cover Letter pg1

FOIA Result – HRC – Richard Johnson – Cover Letter pg2

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FOIA Result – USMC – Richard Johnson – Cover Letter

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We searched the DoD Manpower Data Center database and found the following service listing for Richard Elmer Johnson.

DoD Manpower Data Center (SCRA) – Richard Johnson

This database was also searched for any other active duty to present day. It did not show any other service dates, but sometimes the database is unreliable for recall to active duty from reserve status. This appears to be consistent with all of Johnson’s FOIA responses, however.

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FOIA Results – NPRC – Richard Johnson

NOTE: Richard Johnson has several prior addresses in Michigan, so the place of entry is not unreasonable.

Also, the cover letter from the NPRC made a statement about Army service.

So, the NPRC is saying there is no Army service identified after 1995.

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There are discrepancies between Johnson’s claim of being in the Army for 5 years and then being in the Marine Corps for 6 years.  Giving it the benefit of the doubt, this may have been a bad interpretation of the profile sheet. (see below)

However, there is no mistake regarding a claim of 11 years in the military.  Since the NPRC results show 1994 and 1995, this would have been when Johnson was 18-19 years old.  This most probably represents his first connection with the military beyond a potential stint in JROTC.  Stated another way, it would have been hard to squeeze in an enlistment in the Marine Corps before the ages of 18-19, especially the years that he claimed.  The entire Army service is listed as ‘INACTIVE” which means he wasn’t even drilling weekends in the Army Reserve.  Basically, he was in the inactive reserves which essentially means he was on a list to be recalled if necessary.

Then, the DoD Manpower / SCRA results seem to address 1996 which would have been a year later.  He was in the Marine Corps Reserve.  However, it was only for a few months – 39 days to be exact.  This does not appear to be enough time to complete basic training if this is what this active duty represents.

However, there was little to no opportunity for him to have been in combat during this short period of active duty.


Johnson was discharged from the Army as a PV2 (E-2) vs. the SGT (E-5) claimed.  No indication of a Marine Corps rank.  The USMC could not locate records on him and pointed to the NPRC, which only came up with inactive Army reserve records.


There is no supportive documentation that shows Johnson attending or completing Airborne training.  He speaks of serving with the “10th Battalion Rangers and attached with the 101th Airborne” while in the Army.  Perhaps he meant in some support role and was not Airborne qualified.  The implication is strong, however.


His records do not support the claims that Johnson served in combat.  He would have had to serve in combat to be a recipient of the Purple Heart.  It is not in any of the FOIA results we obtained.


Johnson’s records show no award of the Purple Heart.  There is not even an NDSM listed so that further points to him not completing basic training.


Johnson is not listed in the obvious places – he is not accounted for under the DPAA database lists. Although one can split hairs over everything else, this is the most egregious of the claims.


If Richard Elmer Johnson has used any of these claims to gain anything of value, he could violate the Stolen Valor Act.

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14 thoughts on “Richard Elmer Johnson – US Army, US Marine SNCO, Purple Heart, POW, Blog of Shame

  1. KoB says:

    In addition to looking like he is a leader of the assault meal team six free buffet commandos, it looks as if this tool is a lying POS of the worst sort. Nothing more despicable than a POS that stands on the bodies and in the blood of True Warriors by claiming the award of a Purple Heart. A close second to despicable behavior is a Veterans Organization that would accept said POS as a member. The Troops of TAH are gonna have fun with this one. Welcome to your new found Google Fame, Dickie. You have just stepped on your johnson.

    • Walle, A. says:

      I wonder how much he charges if you hired him to investigate himself.

  2. HARRY J. DILLON says:

    Someone needs to “OUT” this P O S!

    • Walle, A. says:

      We unfortunately have someone I once knew who has claimed to have once been part of Operation Desert Stroke–problem is, he got out (an E-3) before Hussein invaded–we were starting a CAX in CA at the time so got called back to Lejeune, but do I say something..? My opinion of him is now lacking. At least he chose a reasonable time frame, unlike people here who faked participation in the GWOT–a real war but with the numbers sometimes not adding-up. At the same time, he didn’t suffer in Oman like we did; that part of the operation royally sucked, but weeks in the sand in Amtracs wasn’t anywhere near combat nor was returning (also) to sunny CA and the World weeks of drudgery on an LST. Don’t go ’round claiming you’re a veteran when you aren’t–it will be found out, someone will know, then they’ll think like I do now “Was he really that lame all along..? What were the warning signs? What did I miss..? Why? Oh, why..?”

  3. […] folks at MilitaryPhony send us their work on Richard Elmer Johson.  It seems that little Dickie here has been making a […]

    • Walle, A. says:

      Twitter has to be finishing these people off, making Twitter good for something after all.

  4. Mark L says:

    If he’s claiming that he left the Army as an E5, then entered the Marines with the same rank, and then ended his career there as an E6 then he is definitely lying. You don’t just go from the Army to the Marines without completing Boot Camp, and then you start at the rank of Private E1.

    • Walle, A. says:

      The combination could make him an E-11, but if you multiplied the two, an E30.

  5. Walle, A. says:

    We had a guy who used to be in the Army but when he got to P.I., boy, was he sorry he got an Army tattoo–luckily, he was my bunkmate: I got to see it all.

    • Walle, A. says:

      “What is this?!! What do we have here!!! What is that on your arm!!!???”

  6. Miss Ann Thrope says:

    Yeah, the guy is for sure and for certain a POS. But c’mon-ya gotta question the IQ of anybody in the American Legion who would actually be fooled by such an obvious fake. If he was pulling this sh!t on the local gardening club I could understand why folks would be fooled-but it’s the American Legion, they should be smarter than the average road kill dog. My point being if you buy the Brooklyn Bridge you do bear some responsibility for being that dumb.

    • Walle, A. says:

      Really: I knew someone I worked with who was suspect with a lot of people in the World already–he never fooled me once and never fooled them.

  7. Jack says:

    the time frame listed by the NPRC of 1994 – 1995 could have been part of a delayed entry program although they don’t usually go for over a year. My own DEP was 11 months however so it might be feasible. As for his rank, anyone in the Army knows that E-1 to E-4 are damn near gimme’s that require little to no work to be promoted. Hell he could have signed up 3 buddies and gotten promoted to E-2 if the Army still had that program in place. As for any other claims to serving well the NPRC shows them to be false and most of us here know it to be a crock.

  8. Peter says:

    What a shame. This guy needs to grow up. I guess we will always have stolen valor. Maybe make the fines and jail time higher.

Comments are closed.


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