Today is our 2,981st day in Iraq and our 3,509th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualties from on ongoing wars, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4452
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4311
Since Handover (6/29/04): 363
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 224
Since Operation New Dawn: 34
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 318
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,566
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 875
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,487
Journalists - Iraq: 348
Academics Killed - Iraq: 448
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 195, 514, 750, 000 .00
Since SEALs have been in the news recently, we'll take a little look into one of their lesser-known missions these days. Every now and again, we hear about somebody pretending to be in the military in order to reap some personal gain. Sometimes it's a businessman, sometimes it's a politician, sometimes it's an ordinary citizen. It makes no difference to the real SEALs; They'll investigate all of them.
PORTLAND, Maine — As long as there have been Navy SEALs, there have been men pumping up their resumes or thumping their chests in bars with bogus claims of being one of the Navy's elite warriors.
The latest crop includes a Pennsylvania minister who let his congregation believe he was a SEAL and repeated the lie to a newspaper, and there's no sign of such bogus claims abating anytime soon, especially after a secretive team of Navy SEAL commandos killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
A retired Navy SEAL from Virginia who devotes much of his time to outing the phonies said he's receiving 40 to 50 inquiries a day from people suspicious of claims by friends, neighbors or colleagues who say they're SEALs. Their doubts are usually confirmed with just a few checks.
The Naval Special Warfare Command also receives a steady stream of inquiries about possible SEALs, the vast majority of which are debunked, said Lt. Cate Wallace, spokeswoman for the command in California.
And Larry Bailey, a retired SEAL from Chocowinity, N.C., estimates he and friends who are former SEALs have exposed 35,000 phonies through the years.
"There were about 500 SEALs that operated in Vietnam, and I've met all 20,000 of them," Waterman joked.
Wannabes lie to get free beers, to get women into bed, to further their civilian careers or to get military benefits. But what really bugs retired SEAL Don Shipley is that they're stealing someone else's valor — credit due to those who put themselves in harm's way.
"The more outrageous a story is, in a lot of cases, the more it's believed. These guys do a terrible amount of damage," said Shipley, of Chesapeake, Va.
These days, Bailey and several others are exposing phonies through a website, stolenvalor.com.
Steve Waterman, a retired Navy diver from South Thomaston, Maine, and a website participant, said it's easy to ferret out the real deal from the phonies. Dead giveaways are loose tongues and bravado; SEALs are discreet, Waterman said.
Waterman, author of the book "Just a Sailor," never had any desire to become a SEAL. "I watched them train. That was scary enough for me," he said.
Shipley agreed that SEALs don't talk about their exploits.
"It makes us uncomfortable," he said. "We don't like talking about it. But these (phonies), that's what they crave. They like talking about cutting people's throats."
Last weekend, several dozen SEALs joined together as a Navy warship was christened at Maine's Bath Iron Works in the name of Lt. Michael Murphy, a SEAL officer killed in Afghanistan.
I suppose that as long as there are men who crave power and prestige, there will be frauds and liars; they do the real soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines a disservice wherever and whenever they are exposed.