What the Oath Keepers leader’s military record actually says about his service

On January 6, 2021, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, leader and founder of the right-wing militia group Oath Keepers, was ready to issue an inexperienced order he had given.

That day, William Todd Wilson, a military veteran and one of Rhodes’ acolytes, faithfully stored rifles, pistols, 200 ammunition, bulletproof vests, and disguised uniforms in a hotel room before heading to the U.S. Capitol. was doing.Wilson’s account for the day is included Court documents Released on Wednesday.

Arsenal were to be recovered “if asked to do so”-according to Filing, from Rhodes, the man who built the militia based on the recruitment of current and former military personnel and their subsequent loyalty. The command he who would have come.

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The recruitment pitch, often studded with military jargon, is based on the mysterious explanation of Rhodes’ own military service and the distorted interpretation of the military’s core spirit, to protect the leader of the militia and his view of the United States. I drew it as a veteran of Grizzly who is enthusiastic about picking up weapons.

But his copy army A retirement document reviewed by Military.com shows Rhodes’ soldiers who served quietly and relatively unobtrusively, despite his military career playing a central role in the Oath Keepers organization. It reveals previously undisclosed details about the career. According to the document, after working for two years and seven months in active duty, he left the Army in honor and left the position of a “temporary” disabled professional.

January 6 plot, where his group hatched, As outlined in federal rates It led to three guilty fleas from other Oath Keepers and relied heavily on what they believed to be elite military tactics. Militia personnel stored weapons throughout northern Virginia, and the “Quick Reaction Force” team was ready to attack the Capitol at the command of Rhodes. A court report referred to the use of Oath Keepers’ “stack” method. This is a formation that cleans the military room, which experts have pointed out as evidence of the bloated sensation of Oath Keepers’ abilities.

Rhodes pleaded not guilty to sedition.

More than half of the Oath Keepers arrested for previous military service in January, including Rhodes. This is what Rhodes was actively seeking on a publicly-offered pitch that relied on his own background.

“We need former military, LEO, security professionals, skilled martial arts, emergency medical, communications, and intelligence personnel,” Rhodes wrote in an archived blog. Position “Oath Keepers Deploying to DC to Protect Events, Speakers, and Participants January 5-6: Time to Stand Up!” Posted two days before the attack on the Capitol.

“On your feet!” He wrote in November 2020 in a call for a march in DC after the 2020 presidential election. “Get up, connect, check the equipment … and shuffle the doors of my brothers and sisters,” he added-to the aerial military procedures he himself experienced over 30 years ago. Mention.He approved the blog PositionPartly as both “Oath Keepers Founder” and “US Army Paratroopers”.

These messages were in line with Rhodes’ view since the founding of Oath Keepers in 2009. request He instilled a paramilitary culture in his Acolite by requiring militias to take a reinterpreted version of their own military records, and the vows of enlistment in the army-as a result, January 6, 2021. Many people went to the Parliament building.

In an interview, Rhodes’ divorced wife, Tasha Adams, said in an interview that when he met Rhodes in 1991, five years after being separated from the military, he was assertive and smart, but how his military career was. He said he was shortly dissatisfied.

“He identified heavily [with the military] Still, “he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t be a career soldier, even a few years later,” she said.

So far, six of the January 11 arrests that led to the Oath Keepers plot have confirmed military service, consistent with the tendency of militias to hire military and law enforcement veterans. ing.Rhodes too request According to the Oath Keepers website, DD-214, an official document that provides a time summary of service members in uniform, is from potential new hires.

Andrew Mines, a researcher at George Washington University’s Extremeism Program and focused on those with military experience in the Capitol riots, told Military.com: Definitely oversized. “

Rhodes went into service on June 28, 1983, according to his own DD-214, reviewed by Military.com. During his service, he won his parachute badge.Army Service Ribbon show He has completed basic and initial training as a paratrooper.When 2 The Order of Merit of the Army is, according to military rules, the most basic award of “Medal of Service while serving in non-combat areas”.

He qualified as a “Sharpshooter” on the Army’s main rifle, the M16, when he joined Rhodes.Sharp shooter Shows Rhodes successfully shot 30 to 35 of the 40 potential targets in the controlled range. This is a qualification during the Army rifle test.

The mine told Military.com that militia groups are often based on being tactically elite, and observers tend to “stick” to the alleged skills, but “have a military background. When talking to people, it’s really commonplace. There’s no “great element” there. “

Rhodes’ last mission was the E Company of the 60th Infantry Regiment.The regiment was transferred to Fort JacksonSouth Carolina, 1996 as basic training unit.. He also won a $ 5,000 enlistment bonus.

Rhodes separated from the Army in 1986. His records also include “inactive services” for almost eight months. this is, National Guard Or reserve the component, but not explicitly state it.

Although this record characterizes his turnover as retirement, it does not mention the specific case that caused his turnover, nor does it show the benefits of the veterans he received. The record is not signed by Rhodes, but shows his name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

According to the archive, Rhodes explained that he graduated from high school and joined the Army. biography On the Oath Keepers website, which has served as the basis for most public knowledge about his services.Rhodes participated in basic and early paratrooper training while stationed Fort braggNorth Carolina, and Fort LewisAccording to the biography, he was “injured in a parachute accident on rough terrain during a night jump,” Washington. The biography did not detail how long Rhodes served.

John Moseley, one of Rhodes’ lawyers, confirmed the years of service of the founder of Oath Keepers and confirmed that he had separated in January 1986 after a training accident. Between 1986 and 1989, he experienced the “bureaucracy” of receiving disability allowances. His lawyer says he received 50%, but he wasn’t actively serving. Rhodes officially received discharge documents in 1989. Moseley also said Rhodes failed the special forces qualification course after his first week.

Was Moseley Ban In Virginia last month, he told Military.com that he was still a Rhodes lawyer, but his case was a hearing to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a congressional elective committee. From his criminal defense, Moseley’s involvement has diminished. Philip Linder and James Lee Bright are currently leading the defense of Rhodes.

Linder confirmed that Moseley’s status on the team was “fluid,” and added, “I don’t think he will join the team as he approaches the trial.” Linder did not respond to Military.com’s request for additions or amendments to Moseley’s January 2022 statement on Rhodes’ military records.

Mr. Moseley said during his testimony to the Commission on January 6th, Rhodes was asked if he was specifically recruiting military veterans and active duty personnel. He replied, “No, they come to us.”

As part of his judicial deal linked to his role in the plan, Wilson claims on Wednesday that Rhodes tried to reach then-President Donald Trump after a riot at the Capitol began. Was submitted.

“Wilson has heard Rhodes repeatedly begging President Trump to call on groups like Oath Keepers to force opposition to the transfer of power,” Filing said. “This individual denied Rhodes’ request to speak directly with President Trump.”

When asked if Rhodes oversold his military service compared to how appropriate it was to the Oath Keepers, Moseley said, “He thought his military service was a necessary part of what they did. I will refuse. “

“He was trying to serve people and teach them what a legal order is, not a legal order,” Moseley added.

Radical researcher, mine, Not surprising to Rhodes’ military records-in his study, he studied extremists in both long and short careers. But Rhodes says, “It’s a testament to how easy it is for people to turn their experiences into the broader cult of personality that will build these movements.”

The mine emphasized that “it’s not anyone’s place to say that something can’t be made.” [off your service] And your record is pretty sparse. See Rhodes’ relatively short service and how he used it to build Oath Keepers. For example, compared to veterans using experience for employment opportunities.

Adams, Rhodes’ estranged wife, said he was using the intimacy of veterans in their service.

“I don’t think he feels such military pride,” she said. “He understands that others feel it and abuse it for others.”

She said that Oath Keepers “actually made a little sense when it first started,” implying the premise that service to the Constitution is not unified. But now, especially after the riots at the Capitol, she says Oath Keepers “betrayed” their original purpose.

“There are no vows left,” she said.

–Drew F. Lawrence can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence

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