Nathan Phillips, the Native American man whose encounter with a Covington Catholic High School teenager went viral over the weekend, is not a Vietnam veteran, according to retired Navy SEAL Don Shipley.
Shipley, who is famous among veterans for his work in revealing stolen valor, announced Tuesday that he had obtained Phillips’ military records, which showed that he did not serve in Vietnam, despite numerous accounts in the media saying he did.
Phillips told CNN on January 19: “I’m a veteran — I’m a Vietnam times veteran.” He also later claimed in the interview: “I’m a Vietnam times veteran and I know that mentality of ‘There’s enough of us. We can do this.'”
Numerous major news media outlets had also carried the falsehood that he was a “Vietnam veteran,” including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Detroit Free Press. Many online publications also described him as a Vietnam veteran.
Leftist politicians and pundits also repeated the lie on social media:
It only seems appropriate to honor Vietnam War Veteran, NATIVE American and Omaha elder, Nathan Phillips, over those who spew hatred and ignorance. pic.twitter.com/qG2sIJTRR7
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) January 20, 2019
Phillips long fueled the suggestion that he served in Vietnam by not correcting reporters and by claiming in 2008 that when he came back to the U.S., people had called him a “baby killer” and that “a hippie girl spit on me.”
He described himself as a “Vietnam times” veteran, and claimed that his military job was “recon ranger.”
Shipley, who got hold of Phillips’ military record — known as a DD-214, said that Phillips served as a refrigerator mechanic in the Marine Corps.
The record also showed that he went AWOL — away without leave — three times, Shipley said. Phillips, whose name was Nathan Stanard then, was discharged as a private.
He served four years, 1972 through 1976, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and El Toro, California, Shipley said.