AJ Dicken, Fake Navy SEAL

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.”

AJ Dicken, Fake SEAL

AJ Dicken, Fake SEAL

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.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal for Drone Pilots

The Pentagon has come up with a new medal for drone pilots. It is called the Distinguished Warfare Medal. And it looks like a Joint Service Achievement Medal to me:

Distinguished Warfare Medal

Distinguished Warfare Medal

The medal will be considered a bit higher in ranking than the Bronze Star, but is lower than the Silver Star, defense officials said.

Hire Heroes USA

When reading about Mixed Martial Artist Brian Stann (about to face Alessio Sakara), I came across a charity Brian runs. He is a Marine (ex, prior, etc) who was awarded the Silver Star in Iraq for Valor. And along with MMA, this is his new gig:

Brian Stann fights April 14 at UFC on Fuel TV 2

That’s the mindset at home. Stann also has another life outside the gym, as president of Hire Heroes USA, a nonprofit organization that seeks to create job opportunities for veterans.

He’s expressed a profound drive to give back to his military brethren ever since leaving active service to pursue his MMA career.

Stann also has become a spokesperson for a few companies related to the fight business.

Hire Heroes USA

Beyond simply wearing a logo on his shorts in order to profit from his name recognition, he really digs in. He was calling me, in fact, to tout the TRX training system, which was developed by a Navy Seal.

Hire Heroes USA website can be found here. My big question for Brian: does he have a brother? I think I served with him. First name, Afghan? Middle initial, A?

Ozzie and Buck

Depending on how you count it, I am a third-generation American. And It is an honor to live in this country, an honor I sometimes worry is taken for granted. When I read this about Ozzie Guillen, who was born in Ocumare Del Tuy, Venezula, I wanted to high-five the guy. He gets it:

The Anthem lasts from 90 seconds to two minutes, Guillen says. If you can’t handle standing still for it, the Sun-Sentinel reports, prepare to feel the Wrath of Oz:

“A lot of people have been killed trying to make this country free for us,” Guillen said. “You should be there for at least two minutes. Respect that, especially if you come from another country. You should be there an hour before.

Ozzie Guillen of the Miami Marlins 

I think it looks good for baseball if you’re in the stands and you look at the team respecting the flag and the National Anthem…Kids can see that, the respect.”

It’s the same singular rule Guillen had when he managed the Chicago White Sox from 2004 through most of 2011. Guillen always has shown respect for what it means to be an American; he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2006.

Will I cheer for the new-look Florida Marlins this year? No, but I’ll order fish off the menu the next time I go to a seafood joint, in honor of Ozzie. . .

While we are on the subject of patriotism, we lost one of the good guys, Buck Compton:

Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, a veteran whose World War II exploits were depicted in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died, his family said. Compton died Saturday in Burlington, Wash., after having a heart attack last month, the family told the Los Angeles Times.

“To us he wasn’t really a war hero, he was just a hero, period,” Tracy Compton told the Herald.

WWII veterans, from left, Sid Phillips, Buck Compton, Bradford Freeman, and William Guarnere pose at the screening of the Band of Brothers

Lynn Compton also is remembered for his legal career in California. He headed the team that prosecuted Sirhan B. Sirhan for the slaying of Robert F. Kennedy and was appointed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 1970 by Gov. Ronald Reagan. He retired from the bench in 1990.

He was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart during World War II. But it wasn’t until later in life that he became famous for his military service as a first lieutenant in Easy Company after the unit parachuted into France on D-Day in 1944.

Thank you Lieutenant Compton for your service. You make all Lieutenants and all Americans proud. Godspeed, friend. . .