Everyone thought that Jim Moats, a pastor in Newville, Pennsylvania, was a retired Navy SEAL and a Vietnam war hero. He had a plaque to that effect hanging in his office, and he wore the trident medal symbolizing SEAL membership. For a profile in yesterday's local paper, Moats told of being "waterboarded" by SEAL instructors, and of being busted down to a kitchen worker after getting in a fight. "I had almost no discipline. I was as wild as they came. That was my nemesis," Moats said. "They weren't looking for a guy who brags to everyone he is a SEAL. They wanted somebody who was ready but had an inner confidence and didn't have a braggadocio attitude."
"They" were wise. It took only one day for Moats to be exposed as a liar, who'd never been a SEAL at all, and who spent the Vietnam war aboard a Navy ship. Don Shipley, the retired SEAL who proved Moats had never been a member "said Moats' story about being re-assigned to kitchen duty and about being waterboarded were lifted from the Steven Seagal movie Under Siege, while his reference to being hit by SEAL instructors was vintage GI Jane." He also said he's seen lots of clergy members tell the same type of lies! (Trend story possibility alert, for journalists!)
Moats says he just wanted to be a war hero and he was wrong, etc. We believe him. Look at how much attention those Navy SEALS guys are getting right now. Who wouldn't want to be mistaken for a SEAL, at least for a few days? (Ladies, don't ask me whether I was or wasn't; I just don't talk about it.) But when you feel that temptation, it's useful to remember the words of former SEAL Don Shipley, who puts in perspective why Jim Moats was so wrong here:
"He's just despicable. Some of these guys are total criminals. I think just having his ass spanked is enough for him that he won't do it again any longer. He needs highlighted," Shipley said.
Don't lie about being a SEAL, because those guys are mumbling maniacs. Who knows what they might do?