PORT ANGELES — This summer a veteran traveling to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was escorted out of Port Angeles by American Legion Riders, and his story was shared to help raise money for Pennies for Quarters. But his story about having served in Vietnam and Cambodia has been called into question.
There is no doubt that Robert “Alaska Bob” Glaves Jr. served in the U.S. Army, but public records originally published on militaryphony.com and later separately obtained and verified by the Peninsula Daily News do not support any claims that Glaves had served in Vietnam or Cambodia.
Records show he enlisted shortly after the end of the Vietnam War.
“I am a patriot,” Glaves said in a phone call from Alaska on Wednesday. “I served my country and I served it with honor. I didn’t do any more or less than what I said I did.”
Glaves, of Alaska, said he is suffering from cancer and kidney failure and that he has been undergoing chemotherapy.
The fundraising effort was called “Wall Before I Die.”
On the former Wall Before I Die Facebook page was a post that said Glaves joined the Army when he was 17 years old and that he was an Army Ranger from 1974 to 1978, which included five months in Vietnam and Cambodia.
During a recorded interview on KONP’s Todd Ortloff Show, Glaves made the same claim when asked about his service.
“I was in Vietnam and Cambodia for five months,” Glaves told Ortloff. “We did what we needed to do and came home.”
He said his attorney has since advised him not to address any specifics.
Glaves provided an electronic copy of his discharge paperwork, a DD Form 214, that said “SE Asia records restricted.”
Portions of the document — which the Peninsula Daily News cannot verify as authentic without his written consent — appeared distorted and many boxes were blurry. The last digit of the year he enlisted was illegible.
Glaves said he mailed a physical copy of the form to Port Angeles from Alaska on Sept. 23, but that document had not arrived as of Thursday.
An expert technician at the National Personnel Records Center who has seen Glaves’ DD-214 said in an email she has never seen any DD-214 that cites foreign service as “restricted.”
Alex Graham of Gig Harbor, a non-attorney practitioner who specializes in veterans disability law, said a box would be marked on a DD-214 to show that a veteran had been sent to Vietnam, so “there’s no reason to redact that he was in the Republic of Vietnam.”
“That particular note [“SE Asia records restricted”] wouldn’t be on a 214,” Graham said.
An admin of militaryphony.com — who goes by the name Snake — said the organization looked into Glaves’ history after hearing from an “informant” who questioned Glaves’ story.
Snake declined to provide his real name.
Dave Hardin, a spokesperson for militaryphony.com and valorguardians.com said there is an “epidemic” of people using false military claims.
He said the organization has licensed and trained private investigators who investigate claims of stolen valor.
“We’re not just a group of haphazard veterans,” Hardin said. “We’ll expose those that are frauds. Those that are not frauds, we will just as viciously defend their service.”
Hardin said there’s no need to embellish honorable service.
Glaves said he feels the more of the issue he addresses, the more he and others close to him will be attacked.
“I’m not the only one they’re attacking,” Glaves said. “They have continued to attack people left and right without due process.”
Records provided by the National Personnel Records Center show that Glaves served active duty in the Army from Oct. 14, 1975 to Oct. 13, 1978.
The Vietnam War ended April 30, 1975.
Documents provided to the Peninsula Daily News include his record of assignments, showing Glaves had spent time in Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia and Washington.
‘No foreign service’
A form showing his overseas service is blank.
The archives technician who provided the records wrote “please note the additional page showing no foreign service.”
He said he was 63 years old, but court records obtained by the Peninsula Daily News show that Glaves is 61 years old. Records show that Glaves was 17 years old when he joined the Army — after the end of the Vietnam War.
Glaves had attained the rank of Specialist Four before he was discharged. He earned an expert badge with rifle bar and a parachutist badge. He did not earn a Combat Infantryman Badge, a badge awarded to infantrymen in the Army who fought in active ground combat.
Pennies for Quarters President Matthew Rainwater also saw the copy of Glaves’ DD-214 and said the Pennies for Quarters board would discuss it soon.
Rainwater said he wants to wait for the mailed document to arrive before the board makes a decision.
“The board will have to make a decision,” Rainwater said.
Rainwater said no one had raised any questions to him or his board members prior to the militaryphony.com post.
“I will say we take stolen valor very seriously,” Rainwater said. “I do wish these people had approached Pennies for Quarters before going to the press. As an entity, we would have greatly appreciated that and we would have taken it very seriously.”
Rainwater said that no money raised as a result of the “Wall Before I Die” fundraiser supported the ride to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. All funds supported Pennies for Quarters.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].