7/06/2011 9:25am, #31
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
Yeah, this guy's done. I'd also bet he was never a Ranger. If he was, he'd know how easily his story could be disproven.
7/06/2011 9:38am, #32
Kinston man's stories of Ranger exploits is challenged
By Drew Brooks
A Kinston man who told a story of sniper kills and surviving Somalia now stands accused of making at least most of it up.
Jeff "Rock" Harris, 48, told his story in an article published in the Kinston Free Press on Sunday. In that story, which was distributed by a wire service and printed in newspapers including The Fayetteville Observer, he described himself as a reluctant hero with more than 70 military awards, 316 confirmed sniper kills and a career straight out of a Hollywood movie.
But his story is now under fire by watchdog veterans groups and the author of "Black Hawk Down," a best-selling book about the Somalia mission.
On Tuesday, the Free Press removed the story from its website.
"It's bogus," Managing Editor Bryan Hanks said. "The guy is a fake. We're certain."
Attempts by the Observer to reach Harris for this story were unsuccessful.
Harris' claims were almost immediately questioned on Internet message boards and by veterans groups that look for people who create or inflate their military histories. Doug Sterner, whose work exposing "stolen valor" cases has received national attention, said an unnamed member of the military sent the Harris story to him.
Sterner said he receives roughly 20 complaints a week, but Harris' story stood out because it sounded "outlandish." He and other stolen valor groups are investigating Harris' story, but it will take time, he said.
"We don't know yet whether or not Mr. Harris served or not," said Sterner, who is curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, an online database of military awards.
Harris told the Kinston reporter that he was a former Army Ranger, though the Observer was unable to verify his service Tuesday. Harris claimed to have been involved in Operation Restore Hope and the 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, which was the basis for "Black Hawk Down." He also claimed involvement in missions in Panama and Desert Storm.
Other accomplishments cited in the article include more than 300 sniper kills in a three year span and numerous military medals, including three Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and an Army Distinguished Service Cross, one of the highest awards a soldier can receive.
The Army did not award a Distinguished Service Cross between the Vietnam War and the Global War on Terror, according to the Army's Human Resources Command.
"He did not get the Distinguished Service Cross," Sterner said. "I know that for a fact."
Other veterans called into question Harris' other medals.
"There is zero chance that he has a Silver Star, let alone two," said Jay Agg, the national communications director for AMVETS, a veterans advocacy group, and ReportStolenValor.org. "His claims are false."
The Free Press article was based almost solely on Harris' own account of his career. It does not state what Harris' rank was or when he left the military.
In the article, Harris said that he refused to cooperate with the filming of "Black Hawk Down" and that the movie took liberties with actual events in a scene where a young soldier is injured and bleeds to death.
"That would have been me," Harris told the Free Press. "I got shot and cut my femoral artery, but we got out the next morning. I lived, but that wouldn't have been as good of a story line."
That story has angered veterans because the soldier who died is based on Cpl. Jamie Smith, who was killed during the operation. Smith's name was included with the Free Press story in a list of 19 soldiers killed in Somalia.
Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," said Harris' claims are an insult to Smith's memory.
Bowden said he has master lists of those involved in the events upon which "Black Hawk Down" is based, and said Harris' name does not appear on those lists.
"It's fantasy," Bowden said.
False claims are not uncommon, Bowden said, and "victimize the heroism of everyone who has served."
Hanks, the Free Press managing editor, said the article was removed from the newspaper's website after its accuracy began to be questioned Tuesday morning. Hanks said the newspaper intends to publish a follow-up article on Harris but had spoken to "three solid sources," including Bowden, who refute Harris' account of his military career.
The Free Press replaced the Harris article with a statement on its website that said "questions have arisen about the accuracy of information provided by the primary source" in the article.
"The Free Press is looking into conflicting information concerning details of that story and will publish the results of that inquiry when it is completed," the statement said.
Sterner said Harris' claims sound similar to those made by Gilbert Velasquez in Arizona in 2004. Velasquez claimed to be involved in the events of "Black Hawk Down," but also claimed involvement in the killings of Odai and Qusai Hussein and in the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Velasquez's claims became the inspiration for the Stolen Valor Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to wrongly claim to have received military decorations or medals.
Sterner, who is an expert on stolen valor cases, said such fraud hurts on two levels. First, he said, it hurts media and the public's trust in media when veterans' claims go unvetted.
Second, he said, it hurts history.
"History is a victim in this," Sterner said. "It totally distorts the real history."
Agg, of AMVETS, said stolen valor cases are becoming an epidemic.
"The victims are the veterans who have actually earned those awards," he said.
Several agencies investigate "stolen valor" cases, including the Department of Veteran Affairs Office of the Inspector General. A spokesman for the office said there are currently 60 open cases of allegedly false military claims being investigated, most of which involve someone trying to obtain veterans benefits.
Such cases are felonies, the spokesman said, and are punishable by multiple years in prison.
Staff writer Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-3567.
7/06/2011 9:53am, #33
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
- Wichita Falls, TX
Below is a recent posting from SOCNET
"This was just posted on the Free Press site-
10:03 AM on July 6, 2011
I am a man who made a stupid mistake. I cannot apologize enough for the disgrace I have caused. The story is not true. And I have no excuse to offer, there isn't one good enough. I understand everyone's anger at me and it is deserved. I want to apologize to all the men and women who have served and still serve, a foolish and unnecessary decision made out of selfishness. I can only offer this apology and take my consequences as the come, I will. I apologize to my Wife and my employer. Let me suffer the punishment, not them. Again, sorry is not enough to decsribe how I feel. I am not sorry for getting caught, it was time for it to end, just sorry for the pain an disgrace I have caused so many others and to my on service. I apologize to the City of kinston and the Free Press, they were deceived and are not at fault, let this city recover and the good people here live in peace. God forgive me and I am truly sorry. for this.
Jeff Harris" t posted on the Free Press site-
7/06/2011 9:59am, #34
No way of knowing from that whether this is actually him or not though.
If I was involved in a shitstorm like this, I'd like to think that I'd obtain legal representation ASAP - and I'd imagine that my lawyer would advise me to keep my mouth shut and not to, for example, go on the internet and admit to anything, or say anything that could make it worse. Then again, I also like to think that I'm not a moron (your mileage may vary on this final point).
Last edited by Larus marinus; 7/06/2011 10:07am at .
7/06/2011 10:42am, #35
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
If I were him, I would've given myself a CMH. Go big or go home.
7/06/2011 10:52am, #36
Might as well because, you gave yourself others that are just about as rare.
7/06/2011 4:34pm, #37
It would appear that Harris is also employed here - Fit 4 Life in Wilson, NC, as a personal trainer. It is noted that here he describes himself as a 'former Airborne Ranger'.
Originally Posted by that link, bolding mine
7/06/2011 10:07pm, #38
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
I am going to assume he was cross-checked on armyranger.com. I have been having a problem logging in to that site but they have resources in place to check claims of service in Somalia with TFR as well has Panama and Grenada manifests. I am sure if SOCNET was in on the "kill" AR.com was as well. Obviously this turd already outed himself but it would be nice to see if he ever was in the Army and if so what he did (and did NOT do). I am sure they checked to see if he attended let alone graduated from Ranger School. The only thing he left out on his BIO was that he trains NINJA's. I am dumber now for having read his BIO.
7/06/2011 10:35pm, #39
- Join Date
- Feb 2011
You'd think people would see all of these cases in the news and try a new tactic such as claiming the DIC from the CIA. Do they even have a CIA watch group? I'm not familiar with it if they do.
7/07/2011 1:56am, #40
News you can use.
Veterans contest ‘Black Hawk' story
Former Army Rangers say Jeff ‘Rock' Harris never served with them
July 07, 2011 12:00 AM
A Kinston man who told The Free Press for a story published Sunday that he served as an Army Ranger and took part in an infamous battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, was not a participant in that fight and was not a Ranger, according to former Rangers who were there.
Jeff “Rock” Harris, who was featured in a story that ran with the headline “Kinston resident recalls extraordinary experiences that led to ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ” is apparently not listed on the official manifest of soldiers with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Mogadishu at the time of that October 1993 fight nor is the name Michael J. Harris, the name that appears on documents Harris showed a Free Press reporter last week.
“There is no Michael Jeff Harris, not in the 75th Ranger Regiment,” said Mark Bowden, author of the non-fiction book “Black Hawk Down,” who checked the manifest for The Free Press on Tuesday.
Raleigh Cash, who served in Mogadishu, and Matt Eversmann, the Ranger who was a central figure in both Bowden’s book and the movie that followed, both told The Free Press they had “never heard” of Harris. The pair worked together to author “Battle of Mogadishu,” another account of the Somalian conflict.
Harris said he was a member of the 3rd Ranger Battalion, the 75th Ranger Regiment. Cash said Harris was not assigned to the 3rd Ranger Battalion from 1990 to 2002, when Cash was.
In his interview last week with The Free Press, Harris showed a reporter what he claimed was his DD214 Form, which is his record of military service, as well as an Army Ranger Certification and certificates indicating Harris was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.
A public affairs officer for the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., where Harris said he served, said she could not provide information on individuals who may have served there. The Free Press has filed a Freedom of Information request seeking Harris’ service record.
“Based on the information we now have, it appears that in attempting to publish a story highlighting the bravery of an American fighting man on the Fourth of July weekend, The Free Press instead became the victim of a pretty elaborate lie,” Patrick Holmes, editor and publisher of The Free Press, said. “We owe our readers an apology and the promise that, as a news organization, we will be more vigilant in our fact-checking.”
A supervisor at Down East Protection Services said he reviewed Harris’ DD214 before he was hired and did not suspect it could have been false.
In the Free Press interview, Harris also claimed he worked on covert missions, or black ops, and that there is no record of because of national security issues.
“What I did was what they call black ops, and there’s not a lot said about it,” Harris said then. “None of that is ever made public record.”
Cash said he has heard of about 10 people falsely claiming to have been in Mogadishu and many use “black ops” as a cover.
“That’s poser 101 — black ops, secret missions, there’s no record of it,” Cash said. “If you ever hear that, that person is completely full of poop. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen. There’s a record. There’s always a record.”
Tuesday, after the story attracted the attention of Rangers and other military service veterans nationwide, Harris asked The Free Press to print a retraction to “choose the lesser of the two evils.”
Harris said he wanted to release a formal apology, but also stated he “didn’t lie about the whole story. I think what happened was there was some misunderstanding.”
Here are further clarifications about Harris’ story and his interview:
- Harris told a reporter Tuesday some of the information he said may have been incorrect. He said he hadn’t read the story until Tuesday after receiving hate-mail, though he sent an email to the reporter who wrote the story on Sunday that stated: “Thank you and God bless you for the story, so many great comments. You have a God given talent and I appreciate you for it.”
- Harris said he had 316 confirmed sniper kills, all of which were in the last three years of his service. “I think you had the number of confirmed kills wrong. … I must have been talking about my overall unit,” Harris told the reporter Tuesday. A review of the interview, recorded on a voice recorder, showed he did, in fact, say 316. Cash and Eversmann said there’s no truth in the unit having 316 confirmed kills, either. Cash said he believed the record for confirmed sniper kills was about 90 for an individual, and that happened during the Vietnam War.
- Harris claimed his DD214 stated he had earned the Distinguished Service Cross. Doug Sterner, the impetus for the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2005 that punishes those fraudulently claiming military decorations and awards, said Harris never earned the award, which is second to the Medal of Honor. “I have digitized the citation for every man and woman in history that has received the Distinguished Service Cross online,” Sterner said.
- Harris claimed his DD214 stated he had won two Silver Stars, which cannot be true, according to Sterner. “There have only been two people since the Vietnam War who have received two Silver Stars,” Sterner said. “Only one was in the Army … and he was killed in action.”