The Panera Breads near my house has good coffee. Slightly burnt, but in a good Navy way. Plus they have a frequent visitor card. That is, if you swing by often enough, you win free schtuff. Like bagels and coffee. It did not take me long to realize that the algorithm (computer program picking the winners) is set to go heavy at the beginning and slackens off with time. If you don’t spend your winnings, they languish in your account and you don’t win more. I confirmed my non-scientific findings with a couple of the coffee girls who work there. (Yes, I may be thinking too much about this.)
My point: I like Panera. I go there fairly often. And one afternoon, an enormous dude wearing a SEAL baseball cap ambled over to me. He greeted me with: Hey El Tee.
I noticed the Trident shirt and actually thought: Gee this seems like a blogpost waiting to happen. So I probably played along more than I should have.
Hi, I replied.
He asked me my job and I told him a very boring version, hoping my dull garlic would ward off this Navy vampire.
He launched into some bs story about using crypto gear when he was on the Teams. And he mentioned the gear. He spoke of it like a guy who read a magazine article on the capability. It was just a secure radio and he spoke of it like a nuke.
His daughter or granddaughter stood behind him, so I did not say anything. I did not really chat much more with him. But wished him well. I was serious-minded and did not take any of his Navy bait that I take with some of the other Navy folks I chat with. Could he have been a real SEAL? Perhaps, but unlikely. I imagined he served stateside somewhere and wanted a history. There is no shame in the truth. A hey I was a Yeoman and I served in Norfolk. I would have had more reason to chat with him if his appearance matched his story. I don’t imagine there are many 300 pound Navy SEALs. Who are so open about their service.
Then there is the story of this SEAL faker, AJ Dicken, who worked as a Lake Tahoe bartender. And the usual unusual stories began to fly:
Dicken closed the deal with a DD-214 — discharge papers saying he served 35 years in naval special warfare, 291 classified central intelligence operations, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq, awarded the bronze Star, Silver Star, Navy Cross, two Purple Hearts, six counter-terrorist service medals, and nine presidential citations.
Noyes: “Give me the one sentence pitch on the documentary, what was the documentary going to be?”
Vested: “‘A Soldier’s Story,’ based on what he gave us, the most highly decorated Navy SEAL in the history of the Navy SEALs.”
Noyes: “And you paid him the money.”
Vested: “It’s just over $50,000.”
After signing away rights to his life story, Dicken began sending page upon page of suggested plot lines. He wrote, “I have answered questions on a regular basis about what it is like to be a SEAL…What it is like to be in combat, man’s inhumanity to man, and to deal with the horrors of war…This story is my best recollection.”
But, Vested was doing his own research and uncovered a troubling fact (something the I-Team verified with the National Personnel Records Center) — that Dicken has never served a day in any branch of the U.S. Military.
Of course, AJ Dicken was no Yeoman in Norfolk. Just a bs’er.