WaPo issues correction: Native drum-beater Nathan Phillips NOT a Vietnam veteran

WaPo issues correction: Native drum-beater Nathan Phillips NOT a Vietnam veteran
Nathan Phillips

[Addendum: DD-214 snapshots in tweet at bottom. – LU]

Has any media-flogged story ever fallen apart quite so comprehensively?  It’s hard to think of one. Since the false tale broke on Saturday that a group of Catholic high school boys supposedly confronted a Native American elder and taunted him in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, literally everything about the story has turned out to be incorrect.

LU has posted several articles on this incident already. The mainstream media jumped in with both feet to condemn the Catholic high school boys and their treatment of the Native elder, who was piously described by numerous outlets as a “Vietnam veteran.”

Now, in a development that sadly is all too typical, the Washington Post has apparently been able to verify that Mr. Phillips is not a Vietnam veteran.  WaPo came out with a correction to its own earlier story, explaining that Nathan Phillips served in the Marine Corps from 1972 to 1976, but was never in Vietnam.

Trending: Hmm: Ukrainian MPs’ abrupt announcement of Burisma-linked money-laundering allegation has major fact problem

Social media sleuths were already skeptical about this, because Phillips’s age made it all but impossible for him to have been in-country as a Marine.  A user posting as @_NoMan2000 on Twitter pointed out that the last Marine Corps unit in Vietnam pulled out in the latter half of 1971, when Phillips was at most 16 years old.

Phillips couldn’t have deployed into Vietnam with a Marine Corps unit after that. With WaPo confirming his dates of service as 1972-76, Phillips clearly wasn’t a veteran with time in Vietnam.

As noted by @_NoMan2000, Phillips was previously on record referring to his period of service as “Vietnam times,” perhaps suggesting that he meant only that he was in uniform during the Vietnam era.  Veterans may often do something similar, and Phillips can certainly be given the benefit of the doubt.

National Review’s David French, however, points out that in an interview with CNN after Saturday’s confrontation, Phillips did refer specifically to being a “Vietnam veteran.”  This wasn’t a possibly garbled statement from the distant past; it was something Phillips said only a day ago.

It seems he was not a Vietnam vet, however. There’s no need to pile on Phillips, who apparently had a troubled childhood in foster care and has struggled with alcoholism as an adult.  His personal struggles probably have a lot to do with his turn to activism and his record of giving several different, conflicting accounts of a single incident in the space of a three days.

But the Covington Catholic boys have been piled on mercilessly, accused without evidence, their lives and families threatened in the days since the encounter on the Mall.  Phillips hasn’t helped.  The media have traded cynically on the false claim that he was a Vietnam veteran, to depict him as an “elder” of special honor who was mistreated by MAGA hat-wearing white kids.

We should honor all of our honorably serving veterans.  But calling Phillips a Vietnam vet appears to be just another lie exploited by the media (and politicians like Elizabeth Warren) to flog far-left propaganda themes at the expense of innocent teenagers.  Unfortunately, that’s not surprising anymore.

*UPDATE*: Phil Kerpen passes along information from Nathan Phillips’s DD-214 summary of service. He was trained as an electrician and served in what appears to be a reserve unit in Nebraska (it looks like a Marine Wing support unit in the 4th Marine Division, although unit designations have changed since then) as a reefer (refrigerator) mechanic in 1973.  He transferred to El Toro, California for the balance of his service, also as a refrigerator mechanic, from late 1974 to 1976. Phillips had a problem with unauthorized absences (UA/AWOL) while in El Toro and was discharged as a private. Not the best Marine Corps record; not the worst.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.